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Analyse The Different Forms Of Power Presented In "My Last Duchess", "A Woman To Her Lover" And "La Belle Dame Sans Merci"

2207 words - 9 pages

Amongst the three love poems examined in this essay, the theme of male or female power in relationships pervades throughout. The views of the speakers are expressed and defined through literary and poetic techniques. This gives the reader an insight into the speaker's problems and dissatisfaction of a relationship, due to an imbalance of power. However there are dissimilarities between the poems - for example where in "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" the female displays supernatural power and dominance over a knight, the Duke in "My Last Duchess" desires psychological power over his DuchessThe poem "My Last Duchess" is a dramatic monologue written by Robert Browning, coming from the Duke of Ferrara. In the poem he displays his megalomaniac tendencies towards his late wife and how he feels his title symbolises his power over her. We also learn how he doesn't want his wife for love but to be able to exhibit her and 'show her off' and enforce psychological power over.The Duke calls her "My Last Duchess"; here the use of the possessive pronoun indicates to the reader how he feels his wife belongs to him. This implies that the Duke has an authoritative and almost overbearing character as he thinks of his wife more as an object, which he owns rather than a person. The Duke proves his power even further by saying "Notice Neptune, though, / Taming a sea horse". Here he relates himself to Neptune, the god of the seas showing how he believes himself to be god-like. Also the Duke believes himself to be above the level of common people saying he would never "stoop" down to their level. From this we can presume the Duke is afraid of losing his power, and would rather hold his head up high and suffer for it rather than "stoop". The use of this word indicates how the Duke is in a state of mind where he sees himself as superior against others.However as we read on we learn that the Duke has limited control over his wife. He states that "She had a heart...to soon made glad", showing how he feels she is amused easily and distracted away from him - perhaps by other men. This is amplified further when he says "She like whate'er she looked on", showing he believes she undermines his control over her and is paying attention to men other than himself. We can infer from this that the Duke is disturbed about his deficit of restrain over his wife and is deeply angered at how "she thanked men" other than himself.The Duke then goes on to say that "She ranked my gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name with anybody's gift". Here the Duke explains that his supremacy, which he received from his family name, has stretched over several centuries and his Duchess should therefore appreciate him for it, however his 'contenders' have a lot less to offer but still manage to appeal to her more. The Duke is clearly outraged as he not only feels undermined by the Duchess but also by the other men signifying that the Duke wants hierarchical power over those of lower ranks and the power to be able...

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