A Comparison Of ‘My Last Duchess’ And ‘Porphyria’s Essay

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By comparing the poems ‘My Last Duchess ‘and ‘Porphyria’s Lover’, both by Robert Browning the 19th Century Romantic poet, it is possible to explore their dramatic effectiveness and the different methods which are used by Browning to reveal character. In ‘Porphyria’s Lover’, the reader is given an insight into the warped mind of a controlling man who will kill in order to make his love last forever, whilst in ‘My Last Duchess’ the jealousy and the need for domination by the Duke is revealed. Both poems are written in the form of a dramatic monologue; the poem is narrated strikingly, in the first person, by a single character, in these cases a male lover. Browning may have chosen to use this form of writing as it makes the reader more closely involved with the events described in the poem, than they would be if it was written in the third person. It also allows individual readers to experience the powerful emotions described in the poems, letting the reader visualise the proceedings depicted in the poems in their minds eye. The function of the dramatic monologue is not so much to narrate an occurrence, as to reveal the character of the speaker. The dramatic monologue of ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ captures the moment after the primary incident of the poem; Porphyria is dead before the narrator commences. The poems are different in that they have contrasting rhyme schemes. ‘My Last Duchess’ is written in rhyming couplets (although you cannot always hear the rhyme) and is written in a single stanza. The effect of the perpetual rhyming couplets is to give a sense of the Duke being someone who is totally in control and has the need to have power over people (such as his unfortunate expired wife). In ‘My Last Duchess’, Browning has chosen to use enjambment, giving the effect that the rhymes do not give a feeling of closure when they come. However, ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ has a
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