Compare my last duchess and Porhyria's lover considering in particular how the 2 central characters are presented.

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Rahul Bose

Compare my last duchess and Porhyria’s lover considering in particular how the 2 central characters are presented.

Both poems, “My Last Duchess” and “Porphyria’s Lover” have similarities and differences. This can be seen in the themes, the two central characters, content and language. In “My Last Duchess” the Duke, a rich upper class man, is talking to a messenger of a count whose daughter he wishes to marry. This poem begins in front of his last Duchess painting, which is on the wall in the Duke’s home. Throughout the poem, we discover the characteristics of the Duke and learn about the murder of the Duchess. “Porphyria’s Lover” however begins in the lover’s cottage. The poem describes a night they spent together and the murder of Porphyria. Throughout this poem, we also learn about the characteristics of the Lover. Both poems are linked through the murder of Porphyria and the Duchess.

Firstly, in “My Last Duchess”, the Duke is domineering. This can be seen in “The curtain I have drawn for you, but I”. This tells us that the duke was in control over who saw the painting because there was a curtain present over the painting. This can also suggest that the Duke, still, thought that he had control over his late wife.  This also shows the Duke being selfish and powerful.

The Duke’s selfishness can also be seen later in the poem. This can be seen in “A heart, how shall I say? - too soon made glad, /Too easily impressed” and “She looked on and her looks went everywhere.” It would appear that the Duke was not impressed by the supposed flirtatious actions of the Duchess. This is because he wanted the Duchess to be completely his. Therefore we can see that the Duke is also a jealous man.

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Another characteristic of the Duke’s character is his arrogance. He could not stand his last Duchess appreciating anyone but him. This can be seen in, “some-how I know not how as if she ranked/ My gift of a nine-hundred-year old name/ With anybody’s gift.” The Duke feels that the Duchess valued his gift in the same way as she appreciated others. He, in fact, ranked his nine-hundred year-old name, his nobility and especially status above everything. Therefore he felt, his gift could not be bettered by anyone. This quote also suggests that the Duke was obsessive and proud about his ...

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