Use Of The Dramatic Monologue In Porphyria's Lover And My Last Duchess

2785 words - 11 pages

In 'Porphyria's Lover' and 'My Last Duchess', Browning uses several
features of dramatic monologue in order to engage and sustain the
interest of the audience. This style of monologue is spoken by a
character, which is not the poet, and is usually projected at a
critical moment, as in the case of 'My Last Duchess' and 'Porphyria's
Lover'. The speakers unintentionally reveal their insanity, in both
poems, through their separate accounts. By making a comparison of
the two poems, it becomes clear that Browning has used similar
disturbing themes to illustrate what an individual is capable of doing.

Browning's work is known to be an example of dramatic monologue, with
this being the way in which he is able to portray the insanity of his
characters. By using the technique of dramatic monologue in
'Porphyria's Lover' and 'My Last Duchess', the reader is immediately
given an image of both of the narrators' subjects. The opening line is
vital to any poem, as it has the potential to instantly interest the
reader. "That's my last Duchess painted on the wall" begins 'My Last
Duchess' halfway through the conversation, leaving the audience eager
to determine to whom the speaker is talking to. This statement also
hints that the story of his "last duchess" will follow, thus
sustaining the interest of the audience. By using dramatic monologue
in 'My Last Duchess', the reader feels personally involved in the
scene, as if the Duke is directly talking to him. In fact the Duke is
speaking to an emissary, who has been sent by a Count to see whether
the Duke is an appropriate suitor for his daughter. The lack of
response from this envoy however gives the reader the chance to
replace him, thus becoming the only person to whom the Duke is
speaking.

'Porphyria's Lover' opens with an atmospheric picture of the weather,
perhaps suggesting pathetic fallacy, reflecting the mood of the
narrator. The first impression the audience is given of the lover is
of his "heart fit to break", suggesting his unpleasant mood, supported
by "the rain" and "sullen wind" outside. This opening seems less
subtle than that of 'My Last Duchess', as Browning uses atmospheric
imagery to open the poem instead of direct conversation. However the
description of weather, opening 'Porphyria's Lover', engages the
interest of the audience, as they are instantly able to open their
minds to this scene. Interest is also sustained by the introduction of
a narrator and his portrayal of "Porphyria gliding in"; a contrast to
his "heart fit to break", showing the comparison of the lover's
moodiness and Porphyria's gentleness. His mood seems perhaps to alter
with her entrance, as Porphyria is portrayed to "shut the cold out and
the storm". This could metaphorically suggest that this woman was able
to end his unpleasant mood; again leading the...

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