Comparing My Last Duchess, La Belle Dame Sans Merci And A Woman To Her Lover

1776 words - 7 pages

Differing Views of Male-female Relationships in Three Poems

In the three poems we experience three different views of how
male-female relationships should take place. In ‘My Last Duchess’ we
experience the view that the male should have the main role in
relationships, in ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ we hear of a relationship
where the woman is in total control of the man and has all the power.
Finally in ‘A Woman to Her Lover’ we read that both men and
women should have an equal amount of power and no one should be
dominant.

In ‘My Last Duchess’ the thoughts of a very possessive and arrogant
Duke of Ferrara are shared. He expected his wife to behave in a very
conservative manner and wanted her to treat others as inferior.

The Duke shows his position of power in the poem by referring to her
as; ‘My Last Duchess’. The Duke uses the possessive pronoun ‘My’ which
shows that the Duke doesn’t want anyone else to enjoy his wife’s
company and he wants her all to himself. This shows that he has power
over his wife as he refers to her as a belonging; it also shows that
he is arrogant as well as dominant. Furthermore, we can see that the
word ‘last’ implies that the Duke had previous wives; it also suggests
that she is his duchess no more and so something must have happened to
her. As a result of this we get the impression that the Duke simply
marries then divorces, or kills, his wife just to receive her dowry,
and to get more money.

Also, we can see that when the Duke refers to the picture of his wife,
he immediately names the well known artist that painted it; “I call
that piece a wonder … ‘Frà Pandolf’”. Here we see that the Duke shows
off the fact that his painting was created by a famous artist, he may
also be trying to give the impression that such a famous artist would
only paint for him because he is so special. When he talks about his
painting instead of praising his wife, he merely mentions the name of
the artist and says how valuable it is. This tells us a great deal
about the Duke’s character; not only does it show that the Duke thinks
highly of himself, but it shows us the he is very self-centred. This
is emphasised by the fact that he ends the poem with the word; ‘me!’,
showing that he has an extreme sense of self-importance. Furthermore,
we can see from the first two lines of the text Duke establishes his
object:

“That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,

Looking as if she were alive.”

This instantly gives the idea that his wife is dead from the phrase;
“Looking as if she were alive”. This immediately grabs the attention
of the reader and makes the reader want to find out how she died.

We can also see that the Duke is very arrogant and proud by expressing
his disgust when his wife did not appreciate any of his gifts:

“ as if she ranked

My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name

With anybody’s gift.”

This shows that his wife values his gift as much as she values
something...

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