Robert Browning Poems: My Last Duchess and Porphyria's Lover Essay

Robert Browning Poems: My Last Duchess and Porphyria's Lover Essay

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Robert Browning is one of the most celebrated poets of the Victorian
age. His two poems I am working from, "My Last Duchess" and
"Porphyria's Lover", are just samples of his eminent work. Browning
wrote a range of monologues when living in Italy with his wife,
Elizabeth Barret. Dramatic monologues are the basis of the essay. I
will discuss whether (or not) each poem "creates a character who
reveals himself in what he has to say".

My Last Duchess is a monologue spoken by the Duke. He talks about his
relationship with his recently deceased wife. Through the words of the
poem, he reveals the true demise of the Duchess and the reader is
shown the Duke's feelings and opinions of this woman. Porphyria's
Lover is also about the death of a woman. It involves a possessive
lover who wishes to enshrine a moment of love. Though his method is
everything but normal. Both poems are filled with rhyming couplets,
however with the technique of enjambment, they are almost
undetectable. This is a clever and subtle insinuation to the murderous
deed in hand.

I would first like to comment on the titles of both poems. My Last
Duchess can give many hints to what the poem regards. The word 'My'
can symbolise the Duke's wish to own the Duchess and using "My"
creates this image. "Last" may make the reader think that she is the
latest in a long line of wives, or that she is the last wife once and
for all. Porphyria's Lover is left unnamed. Using 'Duchess' the reader
can imagine that the male character is a Duke and therefore he has a
title and a label. The 'Lover' is anonymous; he has no name, but uses
'Porphyria' to describe himself. This makes him very...

... middle of paper ...

...anonymous Lover is possessively insane. He is driven only by his
love for Porphyria. He feels restrained by society and feels that the
moment she declares she is his; he cannot let it slip away. Time is
against him and he had to find some way of keeping her perfectly
preserved and unchanged. The Lover also reveals his rebellion against
religion and God, thinking that God will not condemn him, as his deed
was not wrong.

I prefer Porphyria's Lover to My Last Duchess, as the Duke is terribly
arrogant and pedantic. The Lover, I believe, truly loved Porphyria
with all his heart, though it is baffling why he felt death was the
only option. Whereas the Duke, did not love his wife but saw her as a
possession to show off in front of people. The painting must surely
work the way he wants it, as it is another thing to show off.

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