A Comparison of My Last Duchess and Porphyria's Lover

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"My Last Duchess" is a poem about an arrogant and extremely powerful

Duke who is describing his deceased Duchess. From the word "last" in

the title it is implied that the duke has had more than one duchess.

In this poem, the Duke is extremely egotistic. He says, "I choose

never to stoop." The duchess would look at everyone in the world as

being equal no matter what class they are. The duke however cannot do

this. He is too worried about his appearance.

"Porphyria's Lover" is a poem in which a man describes an evening in

which his lover, Porphyria, visits him and he unexpectedly murders

her. In this it is unlike "My Last Duchess" because Porphyria

'worships' her lover unlike the Duke

From the title "My Last Duchess", we immediately learn that this is a

personal poem to the duke. It is a love and murder poem. It is a

dramatic monologue and is written as a single stanza.

Both poems also have a silent listener. In 'My Last Duchess' the

silent listener is the Ambassador for the Count, who is the father of

the Duke's next bride whereas in 'Porphyria's Lover' the silent

listener could be a number of people it could be a police officer, or

he could just be telling the story to a friend. There is no evidence

in the poem, which tells the reader who he is talking to.

The tone in these poems is important as it acts as a contrast to the

content of the poem. In "My Last Duchess", Browning uses a soft tone

and describes the Duke having the Duchess killed subtly, " This grew;

I gave commands;/ Then all smiles stopped together." Browning

describes this without changing the tone.

However in "Porphyria's Lover" the tone is normal and soft throughout

the poem until the point in which the Lover murders Porphyria, "I...

... middle of paper ...

...both of the characters kill

their lovers.

"She was mine, mine, fair,/ Perfectly pure and good". This is what the

lover said before he killed Porphyria. He kills her because at that

precise moment in time he has complete power and control over

Porphyria and wants to preserve this.

Browning uses a simile extremely effectively in "Porphyria's Lover" to

describe the body of Porphyria. He says "As a shut bud that holds a

bee". This gives the reader the image that her soul is still alive but

her body is dead. The bud is shut and the bee is still alive inside of


Overall, I found these poems both quite enjoyable to read. I enjoyed

"My Last Duchess" less than I enjoyed "Porphyria's Lover". This is

because the murder in "Porphyria's Lover" was so unexpected and a

shock whereas in "My Last Duchess", it was written more subtly giving

it less excitement.
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