• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How is the theme of love and loss explored in these poems: (a)My Last Duchess, and (b) La Belle Dame Sans Merci(c) When We Two Parted (d) Villegiature?

Extracts from this document...


Q. How is the theme of love and loss explored in these poems: (a)My Last Duchess (b) La Belle Dame Sans Merci (c) When We Two Parted (d) Villegiature? The poems, 'My Last Duchess', 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' and 'When We Two Parted' and 'Villegiature' by Robert Browning (1812-1889), John Keats (1795-1821), Lord Byron (1788-1824) and Edith Nesbit (1858-1924) respectively, have all been written in the nineteenth century. All these poems deal with the different aspects of love and the different attitudes of lovers towards their beloved, after parting or during times away from each other (Villegiature). Browning's 'My Last Duchess' shows the possessive and dominant type of love where the Duke, who is speaking throughout the poem, looks upon his wife as an object and treats her in the same way. Though this poem has been written in 1842, the action takes place in the Middle Ages and the inferiority associated with women in those times has been clearly brought out. In the first line of the poem itself the Duke says, "That's my last Duchess painted on the wall," conveying his 'object-like' treatment of her. Later in the monologue he says "But to myself they turned (since none puts by/ The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)" ...read more.


But though it is talked about in all four of the poems, it is in different contexts and therefore has a slightly different meaning in each poem. In 'My Last Duchess', for example, the Duke sets certain strict conditions that any wife of his should follow, like being eternally grateful to him, being arrogant like him, and not letting merely worthless incidents please her too much, "A heart-how shall I say?-too soon made glad/Too easily impressed;she liked whate'er/She looked on,and her looks went everywhere...as if she ranked/My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name/With anybody's gift." Images of nature have been used in describing the Duchess, "The dropping of the daylight in the West/The bought of cherries some officious fool/Broke in the orchard for her," and all these characteristics seem quite normal to the reader, while they were serious 'misdemeanours' in the eyes of the Duke. We see the same obsession around the end of the poem where the Duke says, "Notice Neptune though/Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity/Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!" The fact that particular attention has been paid to this sculpture itself signifies its importance in describing the nature of the Duke. It is symbolic of his obsessive personality regarding his treatment of his wife/wives, where he 'tames' them into being what he expects them to be, again showing his obsession with an ideal wife, who, if he does not find, he will mould. ...read more.


These poems show how though love should be felt from within, one should not get carried away by the intensity of the emotions and keep one's feet planted on the ground at all times. While Byron shows us the result of illicit passion, Keats shows us the harmful effects of infatuation and when Nesbit is discussing unrealistic expectations of lovers, Browning displays the height of human emotion, jealousy and arrogance, so much so that it actually leads one to murder! In my opinion, the poem that best expresses the theme of 'love and loss' is Byron's 'When We Two Parted' as it discusses with the greatest intensity, the emotions felt by the poet after parting from his beloved. It is also written with a tone of sincerity, which is conveyed by the exquisitely lyrical quality of the words. Even though the selfish nature of the poet has been conveyed, I cannot help but sympathise with him, unlike in 'My Last Duchess', where the reader automatically disagrees with the Duke. It is a sad, touching poem and the pain that goes alongside with the sense of elation in love has been expressed in such a way that it tugs on the reader's heartstrings and leaves one thinking about the poem, even long after reading it. 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Love Poetry section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Love Poetry essays

  1. Comparison of Porphyria's lover by R.Browning & La Belle Dame san merci by J.keats

    has finally gone mad, "she was mine, mine," he is completely mad. When he kills Porphyria, "one yellow string I would three times, her little thought around, and strangled her," He is like a praying mantis waiting for his pray his victim to come close and then strike.

  2. I have been analysing several poems recently they are: When We Two Parted by ...

    Every time he hears her name, he remembers they had an illicit relationship and feels shameful about it. When people speak of the woman the lover finds this traumatising. 'They name thee before me, A knell to mine ear;' Her name feels like a knell, a slow sad bell at a funeral.

  1. A study of how pre-1914 poets have explored different aspects of love over time.

    "a bondslave / To bear you children, wearing out my life / In drudgery and silence."20 The second verse addresses the content of Elizabethan poetry, by declaring that she is not some sort of object or idol "whose every deed and word and wish is golden."21 She does not want

  2. La Belle Dame Sans Merci Analysis

    but this will soon change to what the lady does to the man, possibly suggesting a change in domination. Stanzas 7 - 9 Stanza seven opens with 'she found me roots of relish sweet'. This is different to the previous stanzas which open with 'I made, I met...'.

  1. Victorian Poems (damaging and destructive effects of love)

    The adjective "my" is used by the speaker to emphasise his possession of the Duchess. The word "my" usually precedes an object; in this poem the Duchess is the object, which belongs the Duke, or so he feels she should.

  2. Love and Loss

    This suggests to the reader that they split up with the woman being silent and the man crying in tears. Tears suggest in this break up that it was a very sad event for the man. In my opinion this tells me that the man was in very much pain

  1. First Love by John Clare, How Do I Love Thee? by Elizabeth Barret Browning, ...

    few ever come to know the wonderful sensation of that perfect love which is returned. All six of these poems are trying to send out a message of how they have experienced love but in a different sort of way, for example 'First Love' is about a person loving someone

  2. Compare the language and form used to express lost love in 'La Belle Dame ...

    The use of this form, allows the reader to become immediately drawn to the intention of his poem. It has a rather stilted feeling about it, giving the impression that Lord Byron was so full of passionate hate when he wrote 'When We Two Parted' that it did not flow from his pen easily.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work