My Last Duchess and Porphyria’s Lover
Robert Browning wrote the two poems, Porphyria’s Lover and My Last Duchess. In each poem, the speakers seem mentally disturbed. Also, both speakers had relationships with "strong" women who, despite apparently loving them, they each ended up killing. Strangely enough, both men seem to be much happier after they have committed these murders. The murders in these poems deal with power based on gender. The females have the power and the men do not. The men feel threatened by this, so in order to feel better about themselves they kill their lover. The power switches from the women to the men, and murder is the tool used to do this. At the beginning of each poem, the men originally do not have power. One way that this is demonstrated is the author’s choice to make the men insane. In Porphyria’s Lover, the man is paranoid. He describes the storm that is going on around him in the same manner that someone would describe a person, “The sullen wind was soon awake/It tore the elm-tops down for spite/And did its worst to vex the lake” (Porphyria 2-4), which makes him seem suspicious. The reader also realizes that while there is this storm going on, the man is sitting alone in his cottage in the dark without any heat. This is clearly abnormal behavior. The murder of his lover is also quite abnormal. Finally, the way that the man plays with the corpse of his lover is strange and disturbing, which adds to his already psychotic character. The man in Porphyria’s Lover also lacks power because he is of a lower social status than the woman. It is stated that the woman attended a feast, and the reader can conclude that the man was not invited to this feast. Also the man lives in a small cottage. The men are not powerful in the beginning, so it is the women who hold this role. In Porphyria’s Lover, when Porphyria enters the house, she immediately takes control: “She shut the cold out and the storm/And kneel’d and made the cheerless...
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