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Both My Last Duchess and Porphyria's Lover are dramatic monologues written by Robert Browning. Write a comparison between them showing how typical they are of the dramatic monologue form.

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Introduction

January 2003 English Coursework - Comparison Both My Last Duchess and Porphyria's Lover are dramatic monologues written by Robert Browning. Write a comparison between them showing how typical they are of the dramatic monologue form. Include some reference to the form and language of each poem as well as your personal response. A dramatic monologue is a narrative spoken or thought by one person. There may or may not be an audience, if there is, it is a passive audience. The story told is usually dramatic and characters often give themselves away. It may not be an accurate representation of the events as only one point of view is given. This is reflected in both poems although they seem entirely different on first reading. "My Last Duchess" is written in rhyming couplets (AABB) although these are not felt because the lines do not employ end-stops, they use enjambment, this means one line flows into the next. This, combined with the iambic pentameter gives the flow of natural conversation, despite the very cold and controlled verse form, accentuated by the fact that it is decasyllabic - each line has ten syllables. This mimics the character of the Duke. He is cold and without passion. He can talk naturally about the murder of his wife and he seems to see women as objects not people. "Porphyria's Lover" however has an ABABB rhyme scheme. ...read more.

Middle

The Duke merely brushes his actions aside. After revealing the startling information he calmly says "Will't you please rise" and airily comments on a statue of Neptune on the way down stairs. This also gives the impression that he cares more for art work than people. While he talks about the murder of his late wife he is admiring a painting of her, which is the state he seems to prefer her in. This suggests perhaps he is some kind of "control freak" Both men are very possessive, the Duke to the extent he almost accuses his wife of having an affair with a monk, he feels that she is too comfortable around other men. She smiles at all she meets and she loves sunsets, her white mule and a bunch of cherries "some officious fool broke in the orchard for her" as much as him and his gift to her of a "nine-hundred-years-old name" To most these would indicate that she had the qualities of a young, happy, innocent and friendly young girl, but the Dukes reactions show his insecurities, throughout the poem he speaks of her ills and he convinces himself with increasing certainty of her unfaithfulness. The Duke is very powerful, he can just have his wife killed if she does not please him, no one will say a word and he can easily secure himself another wife. He is in a way arrogant as he will not "stoop" to tell her how he feels. ...read more.

Conclusion

Which is worse? Are the two connected? How? Another issue to be questioned is the sanity of both men. This is a matter of personal opinion, and can be applied not only to the poem but to various news stories of serial killers and suchlike. Personally I believe that the Duke was sane, although he was possessive and paranoid. He committed a cold calculated murder. I think it sad that someone of his disposition was put in a place of power and I do not sympathise with him. Porphyria's lover however I do not believe was totally sane, or he would have realised killing Porphyria would not make her his, or preserve the moment and that the feeling she felt before her death had no significance in their earthly relationship. I believe he knew he was killing her but did not understand the concept of her being dead. He says "I wound three times that little throat around and strangled her" and "And yet God has not said a word" implying that he is aware that he has killed her, but he sits with her corpse as if it were alive, he toys with it, he kisses it. He believes it is her "utmost will" although this appears unlikely. The rocking and pattern of the verse seem to reflect a kind of concealed madness. I do not believe he was right to murder Porphyria, but I do think he was mentally unstable. I think both poems evoke thought, shock and even disgust and hate. They are very well crafted. ...read more.

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