Compare and contrast how the writers of "My Last Duchess" and "Remember" portray different views of love

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08/05/2007                English Coursework

Compare and contrast how the writers of “My Last Duchess” and “Remember” portray different views of love.

Love has as many expressions as people who experience it. For some it is a romantic life-enhancing one, for others it is a negative painful experience. In the poems “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning and “Remember” by Christina Rossetti were are offered two widely different views of love. One is a gentle, romantic, poignant message, the other a cynical sadistic monologue. Both are also linked by the separation by death: one implies murder, the other an impending more gentle natural death.

The poem "Remember" is a petrachan sonnet of 14 lines. Sonnet form was a poetic device usually used to express emotions and feelings of love, suggesting that this poem will be more romantic than "My Last Duchess". The octet (first 8 lines) presents the problem, in this case the narrator’s fear of impending death and the rupture between the two lovers: “Remember me when I am gone away … / When you can no more hold me by the hand.” The Sestet (final 6 lines) presents the solution to that problem, and a final more optimistic future.

"My Last Duchess" is in the form of a dramatic monologue. This is a poem of one long stanza in which the Duke, through the language that he uses to describe his former wife, reveals his own character and attitude towards love. It is written in rhyming couplets with some half rhyme; “… pictured countenance / … earnest glance,” and some rhetorical questions, which are polite orders “Will’t please you sit and look at her?” this rigidity of structure emphasises the Duke’s tight control over his former Duchess, and a lack of emotional involvement in their relationship.

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The concept of love expressed in "Remember" is one that the Victorian and modern reader can more easily relate to: we all hope to be remembered and missed when we die, and dread separation from our loved ones.

"Remember" by Christina Rossetti starts with the plea "Remember me …" which is repeated five times in the stanza, emphasising the narrator’s need not to be forgotten and that by their loved one’s remembrance and continued care they will still have a measure of immortality, if only in their thoughts. In line 2 the narrator refers to her destination of ...

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This is a well informed, intelligent essay, which gives a strong insight into both poems and makes some interesting comparisons and contrasts between them. *****