Women Objectified in Poetry

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Tennyson and Browning, in their poems "The Lady of Shallot" and "My Last Duchess," show, through their diction and symbolism, how women are first objectified and finally positioned in patriarchal society. The Lady of Shallot is looking through her mirror as a way to experience the exterior world outside of her harsh castle domicile. She also "weaveth steadily, And little other care hath she" (lines 43-44). The Lady was creating a tapestry; a beautiful piece of artwork she is confined to create. She can only observe and create what she sees in a mirror; her interpretation of the world outside. This world that revolves around Camelot is vibrant and crisp in color and alluring in desire. For her view of Sir Lancelot was that his "gemmy bridle glittered free, / Like to some branch of stars we see...And from his blazoned baldric slug/ A mighty silver bugle hung," (lines 82-83,87-88). Contrasting sharply with her being "half sick of shadows," (line 71). The tapestry she creates reflects her desire to join this exciting life by mirroring Camelot. The one thing that makes her happy is her creation to a connection of the forbidden; the sphere of the man's world. "In her web she still delights/To weave the mirror's magic sights," (lines 64-65). In allegory Tennyson uses the castle as the confinement of Victorian women must attend to as being a women's sphere and place, and Camelot as the world, men, like Lancelot, dominate. Only when she attempts to cross this sphere does the mirror become "cracked from side to side;"(line 115), and she sees that "The curse is upon me" (line 116).

Similarly Browning's, "My Last Duchess" is framed within the confines of the man's sphere. To many Victorians this world was a man's world. Browning even starts the prose with a possessive my and ends it with a possessive me. At the start of the poem the Duke exhibits a picture of his former wife, the Duchess, to his financial advisor by stating, "That's my last Duchess...
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