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A study of two dramatic monologues, 'Porphyria's Lover' & 'My last Duchess' by Robert Browning.

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Introduction

* Natalie Robinson. * = A STUDY OF TWO DRAMATIC MONOLOGUES, ' PORPHYRIA'S LOVER' & ' MY LAST DUCHESS' BY ROBERT BROWNING. Essentially the two pieces, 'My Last Duchess' and 'Porphyria's Lover' are dramatic monologues. In a dramatic monologue a speaker addresses a silent listener, revealing himself in the context of a dramatic situation. Both poems are very similar in regard to their topic; they explore the combination of love and violence, controlled by the male, not the female, in the monologues. The male lovers, in an attempt to have complete control over the female, results in the action of murder, which seems to satisfy their jealousy. However although the two pieces are very similar, a diverse atmosphere is projected by Robert Browning's usage of different tones in the language. 'Porphyria's lover' has a more passionate, warm atmosphere over ' My Last Duchess' cold atmosphere of the narrator. ' Porphyria's lover' gives the reader a dramatic insight into the mind of an abnormally, possessive lover, who's wish is for their moment to last forever. This dramatic monologue captures the moment after the main action. Porphyria already lies dead in her lover's arms when the speech begins and so is written in past tense with no direct listener, this is in contrast to ' My Last Duchess'. That poem is written in the present tense as the duke is conducting the tour of his residence . It is clear from the beginning of 'Porphyria's lover' that that the two characters are involved in a passionate relationship. This relationship could be perceived to be a sin as Porphyria is married, but committing to an affair. ...read more.

Middle

The reader only learns with a chilling insight as the monologue graduates, that the Duke did in fact cause the early demise of his wife, although the murder itself is not put on display to the reader. The narrator in the poem expresses the speech in natural language, showing the lover's spontaneous thoughts, and does not display the colloquialisms of some of the later Browning pieces. The cadence of the speech mimics not speech, but takes on the form of a highly patterned verse, rhyming ABABB. The asymmetry of the pattern suggests the madness that was tightly concealed within the lover. The rhyme scheme also makes more shocking the scene of murder. The narrator uses simple language, which is almost over- calmed, envisaging no sign to the upcoming murder, giving a more disturbing feel to the poem. Enjambment and run- on lines express a passive and relaxed mood, however the harsh sounding words of ' and strangled her', holds the poem and brings about the reality of the horrific murder. The lover seems almost seducing and teasing as he says ' Three times her little throat'; this divulges the fact that perhaps Porphyria's lover does not realise fully the severity of his actions. ' I warily opened her lids' divulges a moment of tension for the reader, and expresses that the lover was scared at the thought she may have suffered much pain, furthermore we see his strong feelings for her. In My Last Duchess, the reader sees no hint that the Duke is wary of any suffering his wife may have endured, and seems callous and uncaring. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Duke shows also duality, conveying politeness to the guest, although at the same time reveals a more true, cold character through parenthesis. Harsh language such as 'durst' and 'disgust' takes on a cold, bitter and evil tone, which differs to the tone of Porphyria's Lover, which holds a more passionate and calm tone. The mood and atmosphere of the two Dramatic Monologues also contrast. The mood of My Last Duchess is sinister and detached because of the cold characteristics and language used by the Duke. Whilst the mood of the other monologue is intensive, turbulent and passionate. Robert Browning forces the reader to become involved in the two Dramatic Monologues, in order to understand the protagonist's seeming torment that they suffered from the women in their lives, with both problems relating to their relationships. Browning manages to provoke some moral or emotional reaction from the reader, as the women are victims of a male desire to have control over their actions. Although the reader is horrified at the murders of both the dramatic monologues, we are more tolerant over Porphyria's lover. This murder was spontaneous, and was not a deliberate, calculated murder, but a crime of passion, as he did in fact love the woman, differentiating from the Duke who seems to have hated his wife. Neither show remorse for their actions, with the Duke the reader can only assume that he does not care, where as the lover believes Porphyria has her ' utmost will', and is now happy. From My Last Duchess we do not encounter the murder and so the reader can only imagine the degree of violence and evilness that the Duke had his accomplice inflict on the Duchess, contributing to a harrowing story through the work of dramatic monologues. ...read more.

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