A Comparison of 'My Last Duchess' by Robert Browning and 'Ulysses' by Alfred Lord Tennyson

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A Comparison of 'My Last Duchess' by Robert Browning and 'Ulysses' by Alfred Lord Tennyson

These two poems, or monologues, were written by Robert Browning (My

last Duchess) and Alfred Lord Tennyson (Ulysses), in the 19th century

during the reign of Queen Victoria. Many other influential writers

were also born in this period. During this time, Britain’s population

doubled from 17.5 million to 37 million. Britain was a very powerful

nation with a strong economy, and had a very large empire that covered

the globe. This brought on an air of pride and confidence. Creature

comforts, such as transport, sanitation and housing were improving

during this time. More men had the vote than ever before, although

women were still not allowed to vote. All was not well however,

begging, drunkenness and child exploitation were extremely common.

Many people were hypocrites: they said one thing but did another. This

period was also one of political unrest.

In My Last Duchess, the Duke has power, importance, prominence, wealth

and control over his life. We know this as he is a “duke” and has many

possessions. He is also looking for more status by marrying into an

even more powerful family than his own, thus gaining more power and

possibly more wealth. In this poem there is a silent listener who is

the servant of the Count of Tyrol.

In Ulysses the speaker also has power, wealth, importance and

prominence. Ulysses has not gained his power through inheritance like

the Duke, but rather by his own exploits on the battlefield. He is not

looking for a new wife, but instead is trying to return to his current

wife. Ulysses is also trying to lose his power, t...

... middle of paper ...

...ve and that he is

driven by this.

Overall, I think that the poem My Last Duchess was the more successful

poem. By successful I mean that it was a more engaging poem and a more

satisfying poem to read than Ulysses. My Last Duchess also forms a

more successful historical setting and reflects the time period when

it was written better than Ulysses. Ulysses, however, has a more

interesting plot than My Last Duchess and actually moves, whereas My

Last Duchess has a circular plot as the end ties into the beginning of

the poem and can, almost, be read without the middle and still make

sense. All in all, poetry is not my favorite form of literature, but

if I had to pick a poem that I liked best, it would be My Last Duchess

due to the fact that it was a more satisfying and engaging poem to

read, with many hidden meanings.

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