Comparative Analysis on My Last Duchess and Porphyrias Lover by Robert Browning

Published: 2021-08-18
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Vanderbilt University
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Both poems, "Porphyria's lover " and "My Last Duchess" are written by Robert Browning. "Porphyria's Lover" is mainly a dramatic monologue. It is a description of the occurrences that eventually result in the death of Porphyria. A dramatic monologue usually refers to a description of incidents that are told by a single person (Efird, 5). "My Last Duchess" presents an Italian Duke who hopes to marry the daughter of the ambassador of counts. He tries to impress a representative of Count via showing him the paintings and gallery of his last Duchess (Efird, 23). The Duke speaks frankly about the murder of his last Duchess. A comparative analysis of both poems helps the reader get a deep understanding of the poems.

Power dynamics by gender is the major similarity in both poems. In the beginning, women in both poems possess the power (Saminsky, 5). Men in the poems are threatened by this power. They opt to murder the women in the two poems to take over the power. Eventually, there is the switch of power from women to men with murder acting as the means of power transfer (Saminsky, 7). Porphyria's lover immediately becomes in control after he kills Porphyria. He takes control of her body by manipulating it (Saminsky, 10). The Duke is also in possession of her last wife after he kills her. The Duchess has been turned into a piece of art which is in possession of the Duke (Saminsky, 11). This is an indication of the extend men will go for them to be in control.

Also, Browning shows dramatic monologue in both poems. In a dramatic monologue, the reader gets only one point of view. The basis of both poems is the narrator's way of thinking, feelings, and crisis (Efird,5). The reader has to believe the narrator's judgment although it is difficult to trust what the narrator says. "My Last Duchess" illustrates how Robert is fascinated with control (Efird,7). The Duke demands total control over his wife. He wants full attention from his wife. In comparison with this, Porphyria wants a woman from a higher social class than his to marry him (Efird, 23). In both poems, the Duke and Porphyria are not satisfied with water the Duke their lovers offer them because their motive is to treat the women like assets.

There is a difference in the tone of the poems. In "My Last Duchess," the tone is crucial since it gives a contrast to the poem's content (Efird, 23). The poet makes use of a soft tone in "My Last Duchess." He describes how the Duke results in the murder of the Duchess, "This grew; I gave commands;/ Then all smiles stopped together." (Efird, 13). Robert does not change the poem's tone when describing this. In contrast, Robert uses a normal and soft tone in the entire poem in "Porphyria's Lover" up to the point when Porphyria gets killed by his Lover (Efird, 23). The lines that describe the murder in this poem are bold when compared to that in "My Last Duchess." The use of enjambment is also effective in "Porphyria's Lover" as it presents the reader with the image of the yellow hair being swathed around the neck of Porphyria.

In conclusion, the two poems are similar to each other. They possess an extreme extend of obsession which is hard to believe and that results to both of the deaths in the poems. The poems are also similar in that the upper class takes control of the better parts of the poems. The major difference in both poems is the tone. "My Last Duchess" uses a normal and soft tone throughout the poem which gives a contrast of the content in the poem. "Porphyria's Lover, on the other hand, is a bit different because there is a change in tone when the Lover kills Porphyria. The tone in this part is bold.

Works cited

Efird, Tyler. "Anamorphosizing" Male Sexual Fantasy in Browning's Monologue." Academic Journal Article (2010): 5-34.

Saminsky, Alina. "The Balance of Poer between Men and Women in Robert Browning's Poems." Inquiries Journals (2010): 3-14.



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