Compare the Ways in Which Pre-1914 Poets Approach the Theme of Death.

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Compare the Ways in Which Pre-1914 Poets Approach the Theme of Death

    In the three poems, “To His Coy Mistress” – an argumentative yet satirical take on a man’s quest for sex by Andrew Marvell, “Porphyria’s Lover” and “My Last Dutchess” – Two dramatic monologues by Robert Browning, the dominating themes running parallel in each are the all powerful concepts of love and death. I have chosen to look at the way in which each poem broaches the theme of death, the context and setting in which it is used and the similarities and differences in the overall approach of the subject. Although, as in all cases, literary techniques such as punctuation, rhyme, rhythm, alliteration and assonance are used to great effect in each poem to portray the subject matter, I have chosen to explore sentiment and expression rather than technical and literal devices. I will look at the following subjects: Mood and imagery, for diverse contrasts in the setting and context of each poem; Feelings such as passion, greed, possessiveness, hate, impatience and love, which is inexorably woven into all of the aforementioned emotions; Social status, which so often in pre-1914 circumstances dictated so much of love and sociably acceptable situations and finally the general way in which each poem approaches death.

    In “Porphyria’s Lover”, events begin on a dark, cold, tempestuous night. The mood is dark and sullen, a perfect preface to a tale of murder.

    As Porphyria enters, she brings with her a metaphorical sense of warmth and comfort to the cottage;

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    This imagery brings a sense of passion and love, a story you would hardly expect to end in the murder of a woman who brings such warmth. This abstract approach serves to surprise and contradict all the expectations of mutual love, culminating in murder as a spontaneous crime of passion.

    In contrast to this, the death of the female in “My Last Dutchess” is a cold, bitter act of function. Having ‘betrayed’ her husband’s expectations, he has her brutally murdered. The mood is dark and cold, no remorse is shown from the duke for ...

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