Use of the Dramatic Monologue in Porphyria's Lover and My Last Duchess

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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... ... middle of paper ... ...g more of a passionate poem. The poem also uses iamic tetrameter, in order to stress the importance of different syllables of words in the poem. 'Porphyria's Lover' concludes with a rhyming couplet in order to tidy up and close the piece. In conclusion, Browning uses dramatic monologue in 'Porphyria's Lover' and 'My Last Duchess' in order to engage and sustain the interest of the audience. Various factors, such as the state of mind of both characters, use of language (particularly imagery) and the lay out of the poem contributed to the effectiveness of the poems. When studying comparisons and contrasts in the poems, it becomes clear that Browning has used the same methods of aiming to disturb the reader in both 'Porphyria's Lover' and 'My Last Duchess', although different ways in which to alarm the audience are used.
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