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The Women in 'My Last Duchess' and 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' Represent Two Very Different Kinds of Personality. Through a Comparison of Both Poems, Explain What These Differences are and What Effect the Women Have on the Men Around Them.

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Introduction

Ellen Adams 11ZA2 The Women in 'My Last Duchess' and 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' Represent Two Very Different Kinds of Personality. Through a Comparison of Both Poems, Explain What These Differences are and What Effect the Women Have on the Men Around Them. Although two very different poems, there are many similarities as well as differences between 'My Last Duchess' and 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci'. In this essay I am going to compare and contrast the two poems written by Robert Browning (My last Duchess) and John Keats (La belle dame sans merci). I am also going to examine what affect they have upon their lovers and the men around them. There are many noticeable differences between the Duchess and the Belle Dame. Firstly, they both have very different kinds of personality. The Duchess tends to be quite sweet and unprovoking. She is also very unaware of the feelings she generates between her and other men :- 'The bough of cherries some officious fool broke in the orchard for her'. ...read more.

Middle

The Duchess was also in love with only one man- the Duke (though he thought otherwise), whilst La belle dame fell in love with many. The Belle Dame is very aware of her beauty and uses it as a lethal weapon against any man who ventures near her. The Duchess is completely the opposite though. Being very shy, she doesn't realise her true beauty and appeal to men other than the Duke. Both women, however, have maddening effects on their lovers. The Duchess by making the Duke so jealous of her appeal to other men, that he murders her, and the Belle Dame, by sending the Knight so insane that he simply ventures around the meads 'alone and palely loitering'. The Duke and Knight play crucial parts in the scenes and themes of both poems. They have very contrasting personalities to one another. The knight is very gullible and naive- in falling in love with a woman he knows is an evil and unreal person- though he can do nothing to prevent this. ...read more.

Conclusion

The poem also contains run on lines with no particular punctuation at intervals, unlike in 'La Belle Dame'. The background sources used by Keats and Browning are very unlike. There is a lot of history used in both poems. At the time Robert Browning wrote 'My last Duchess' there was a large influence in Italy in particular over possessions and status. The story of the Borgias family who paid people to kill those they did not like or were not on friendly terms with, also gave him ideas. John Keats, though, was influenced by the thoughts and beliefs of people in 1795-1821. This was the time in which legends such as monsters and witches were at the centre of everyone's minds. It was the idea of witches, which probably gave Keats the name of his poem. In those times, the word for witch was 'Bedlam' which sounds like 'Belle Dame', so that could be significant. So, altogether there are many similarities and contrasts between 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' and 'My Last Duchess' and both teach valuable lessons about life but also give insights into the lives and beliefs of some people in those times. 1097 words ...read more.

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