My Last Duchess V River God

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Compare how the poet creates a powerful character in My Last Duchess and one other poem The authors of My Last Duchess and River God both create two very powerful characters, meaning both powerful in their control but also powerful as in very distinct and memorable. Although they have many similarities, there are also differences in techniques and the desired effects of the character’s personalities. Firstly, both the characters are powerful and have a lot of control, and use this cruelly. In My Last Duchess, after explaining that his late wife was constantly smiling flirtatiously with other men, he says ‘I gave commands; then all smiles stopped together.’ The word ‘command’ is an imperative verb and it also doesn’t carry much emotion. It implies that he feels it was a necessary decision to have her killed, and he shows no remorse for it. The fact that he is able to simply give a command and have someone kill his wife for him shows that he has people below him which he can order around. He could also have chosen the word ‘commands’ –which is quite sharp and severe- to flex his power and try to prove a point to the reader and his audience. This implies that he is not only very powerful but also eager to prove this – killing his wife could have been another way of proving his power, and showing people that if they aren’t good enough for him, he doesn’t have to put up with it. It could alternatively have been because she made him feel out of control – he was never quite sure if she was faithful or what she did behind his back – and he didn’t like this lack of power, and was jealous of other men she spoke to or smiled at. He doesn’t talk about the fact that he has commanded her death outright in the quote – ‘all smiles stopped together’ is euphemistic and could suggest that he is brushing over the fact that she is dead. This could be because he feels remorse,

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