Treatment of Women in Robert Browning's My Last Duchess and Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress

Treatment of Women in Robert Browning's My Last Duchess and Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress

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Treatment of Women in Robert Browning's My Last Duchess and Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress

Sex, lies and intrigue are just a few of the themes explored in “My
Last Duchess” and “To His Coy Mistress”. The control men have over
women and the control women have over men are also closely observed in
these 16th century poems. The two poems also give us an insight to the
treatment and presentation of women in that era. The poets, Robert
Browning and Andrew Marvell, have used a narrative style to write
their poems, however the eye of the poem appears not to be speaking
directly to the audience in either case. We shall have to study and
compare the content of both poems in order to come to a conclusion in
which we can decide which of the two poems is more effective.

Robert Browning's “My Last Duchess”. This is a narrative poem told by
a duke, supposedly Alfonso II the Duke of Ferrera, to a representative
of the Count of Tyrol, who is arranging for the duke to marry the
Count's niece. The duke tells the agent about how his last duchess
treated him throughout the poem, which includes the sex, lies and
intrigue in their marriage. The title of the poem, “My Last Duchess”,
is significant as it instantly hints that the poem may be about having
a women in your possession when the word 'my' is used. The word 'last'
is used to say the most recent when referring to the duchess.
Throughout the poem there is a reference to a painting of his wife and
we first see this in the opening line of the poem:

“That's my last duchess painted on the wall”

Here we can already see the duke referring to his wife as a
possession. We can see the duke's opini...


... middle of paper ...


...uggests
that although women are not to be physically controlled, they are
still manipulable and to be persuaded into doing what men want. Both
poems show men as being active, but only “To His Coy Mistress” shows
women as being passive as the woman involved is showing her power to
say no, but the duke's wife is sleeping around.

In showing the presentation and treatment of women, “My Last Duchess”
is more effective as the absence of figures of speech make the duke's
thoughts and feelings towards women appear more realistic and there is
proof of the way he treats women as objects to be controlled and added
to the collection throughout the poem. The woman in this poem also
does better in terms of having control as the only way her husband can
control her is by killing her and putting a curtain over a painting of
her.

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