"My Last Duchess" is a poem about an arrogant and extremely powerful
Duke who is describing his deceased Duchess. From the word "last" in
the title it is implied that the duke has had more than one duchess.
In this poem, the Duke is extremely egotistic. He says, "I choose
never to stoop." The duchess would look at everyone in the world as
being equal no matter what class they are. The duke however cannot do
this. He is too worried about his appearance.
"Porphyria's Lover" is a poem in which a man describes an evening in
which his lover, Porphyria, visits him and he unexpectedly murders
her. In this it is unlike "My Last Duchess" because Porphyria
'worships' her lover unlike the Duke
From the title "My Last Duchess", we immediately learn that this is a
personal poem to the duke. It is a love and murder poem. It is a
dramatic monologue and is written as a single stanza.
Both poems also have a silent listener. In 'My Last Duchess' the
silent listener is the Ambassador for the Count, who is the father of
the Duke's next bride whereas in 'Porphyria's Lover' the silent
listener could be a number of people it could be a police officer, or
he could just be telling the story to a friend. There is no evidence
in the poem, which tells the reader who he is talking to.
The tone in these poems is important as it acts as a contrast to the
content of the poem. In "My Last Duchess", Browning uses a soft tone
and describes the Duke having the Duchess killed subtly, " This grew;
I gave commands;/ Then all smiles stopped together." Browning
describes this without changing the tone.
However in "Porphyria's Lover" the tone is normal and soft throughout
the poem until the point in which the Lover murders Porphyria, "In one
long yellow string I wound/ Three times her little throat around".
This is bold compared to "My Last Duchess". In addition, here the use
of enjambment is effective because it gives the reader the image of
the yellow hair being wrapped around Porphyria's neck
The rhythm in this poem is consistent give a relaxed atmosphere in the
poem. This is effective because it makes the Duke revealing he had his
wife murdered more shocking. Browning jars the rhythm in the poem
where the duke reveals he had his wife killed.
Browning also uses an effective rhyming scheme. He uses rhyming
couplets to make the poem flow easily. For examplein "My Last Duchess"
he writes, "Frà Pandolf's hands/ Worked busily a day, and there she
The regular rhyme in "Porphyria's Lover" gives the poem a relaxed
rhyme but off rhymes give a shocking effect at the point where the
lover murders Porphyria
Browning use enjambment effectively in both poems. More so in
"Porphyria's Lover". The lines do not employ end-stops; sentences and
other grammatical units do not necessarily conclude at the end of
This happens more so in "Porphyria's Lover". The lover describes
Porphyria removing her wet hat, "untied/ Her hat...