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Comparison Of ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ And ‘My Last Duchess’

1250 words - 5 pages

‘Porphyria’s Lover’ and ‘My Last Duchess’ are both poems by the Victorian poet Robert Browning. In this essay I will compare these two poems to find similarities and differences.

Both of these poems can be used read from different points of view and they could also be used to show how society treated women in the Nineteenth Century: as assets, possessions. Both of these poems are what are known as a dramatic monologue as well as being written in the first person. The whole poem is only one stanza long, and each line in the stanza comprises of eight syllables. ‘My Last Duchess’ is about a member of the nobility talking to an ambassador concerning his last wife, who later on in the poem is revealed to have been murdered by the person speaking, who is about to marry his second wife. ‘Porphyria's Lover’ gives an insight into the mind of an exceptionally possessive lover, who kills his lover in order to capture that perfect moment of compassion. ‘Porphyria's Lover’ uses an alternating rhyme scheme during most of the poem except at the end. The whole poem is only one stanza long, and each line in the stanza comprises of eight syllables.

In ‘My Last Duchess,’ the speaker is conveyed as being controlling, arrogant, malicious, and capricious. The Duke shows signs of jealousy and over-protection towards his first wife. On the other hand, the narrator in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ is portrayed as who has lost touch with reality, someone clearly insane. There a few hints that this character may be lonely and withdrawn. After Porphyria enters the room he is in, the tension immediately drops and the mood warms.

The Speaker in ‘My Last Duchess’ is conversing with the servant of a count whose daughter he is proposing to marry. He treats the servant as if he belonged to him, issuing commands to be obeyed all the time, However, the speaker in ‘Porphyria’s lover is just speaking to Porphyria, giving the poem the feel of an aesthetic poem, with just the narrator telling is of his encounter with Porphyria.

The Dramatic Monologue in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ helps build tension, horror and suspense because only one character is talking, making it a one-sided story. After he tells us about himself, the way he very unexpectedly killed Porphyria shocked and surprised me. However, the dramatic monologue in ‘My Last Duchess’ is very interesting simply because one of the main characters in absent throughout the whole poem, making us want to learn first-hand about them, and actually see if they were actually like the way they were described.

‘Porphyria’s Lover’ is set in a cottage. The weather is windy and rainy but improves when Porphyria enters the cottage. In contrast, ‘My Last Duchess’ is set in an opulent, extravagant palace belonging to a wealthy duke. The settings in both poems are established by using descriptive language, similes, a few metaphors and use of detail such as the way he uses the painting to describe the painting. There is also use of...

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