The Similarities And Differences In My Last Duchess And Porphyria's Lover

1036 words - 4 pages

The Similarities and Differences in My Last Duchess and Porphyria's Lover

'My Last Duchess' and 'Porphyria's Lover' are poems written by Robert
Browning in the form of a dramatic monologue. They both contain themes
of love, jealousy, contempt and obsession.

In the beginning of 'My Last Duchess' the Duke is speaking about his
wife's portrait to an envoy. In 'Porphyria's Lover' the Lover is
speaking directly to the reader, conveying his thoughts, personifying
the weather perhaps emphasizing his unhappiness ('the sullen wind soon
awake') seeing as he had a 'heart fit to break'. Both the Duke and the
Lover are watching the women whilst they speak. The Duke hints at her
having affairs; 'Fr. Pandolf's hands worked busily', 'busily' implies
that he did more than just paint her picture. The Lover in
'Porphyria's Lover' shows a similarity, as he too was suspicious of
her love, believing she would not give herself fully to him as she was
'from pride and vainer ties', from a higher rank. Both Porphyria and
the duchess are of high ranking. The difference here is that the Duke
believed his wife did not give herself fully to him, but was as
equally impressed with everyone and everything, and the Duke was too
proud to give her the same attention. In 'Porphyria's Lover' the Lover
believed Porphyria was too proud to give him her undivided attention.
The Duke felt that the duchess treated every trivial object with the
same affection she had for him, 'too easily impressed, she liked
whate'er she looked on'.

Although both the Duke and the Lover felt unloved in the beginning
neither made any attempt to convey this to their lovers. The Lover
pretended to be asleep when Porphyria entered the home ('When no voice
replied'), where she began lighting the room with ease, a contrast
between the cold weather outside and the warmth inside ('She shut the
cold out and the storm and made the cheerless grate blaze up'). The
Duke did not wish to 'lower' himself to her level by expressing his
thoughts about her attitude ('who'd stoop to blame This sort of
trifling?' 'I chuse never to stoop'). Both men waited for the women
to show their love and loyalty first ('When no voice replied...put my
arm about her waist...made her smooth white shoulder bare').

Porphyria was seductive, she 'put [his] arm around her waist', made
her shoulder 'bare' and was of a higher ranking compared to her Lover
whist the duchess was down to Earth, appreciative of everything and
according to the Duke, was of a lower ranking, as she was a woman and
he believed she 'lowered' herself. Both women felt comfortable with
their lovers', they felt secure as their lovers' showed no indication
of their discontempt for their behavior. The Lover felt as if
Porphyria was a coward, the repetition of her yellow hair emphasizes
this (yellow is portrayed as cowardice), not wanting to give herself
fully to him, 'she Too weak'. The Duke believed the Duchess was too
simple for...

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