Porphyria's Lover and My Last Duchess
Compare the two poems 'Porphyria's Lover' and 'My Last Duchess' by Robert Browning. What do they reveal about attitudes to women and relationships in the nineteenth century?
Robert Browning was one of the greatest poets of the nineteenth century. In 1842, he published 'Dramatic Lyrics' which included the two poems 'Porphyria's Lover' and 'My Last Duchess'. In 'Porphyria's Lover' Browning gives the reader a dramatic insight into the twisted mind of an abnormally possessive lover, who wishes the moment of love to last forever. In this essay, 'Porphyria's Lover' will be compared to Robert Browning's other dramatic monologue, 'My Last Duchess', where an Italian aristocrat reveals his cruelty to his late wife whilst showing off a portrait of her to one of his guests.
Robert Browning's poems 'Porphyria's Lover' and 'My Last Duchess' were both written in the form of a dramatic monologue.
Both poems show a similarity because they are both narrated from the male lover's point of view. As a result, the reader becomes more closely involved in the poems and can feel very strong emotions for the individuals portrayed than if the poem was written from the eyes of an 'outsider'. This form of writing enables Browning to use irony, in which the real meaning is concealed or contradicted by the literal meanings of the words. For example, in 'My Last Duchess' the Duke orders the death of his wife, though hides the true meaning in his words:
' Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together.'
'My Last Duchess' is also written in the form of a single stanza poem, which is the unit of a poem that consists of two or more lines of verse organised according to the content...