Compare and contrast the methods used by Robert Browning to portray the two speakers in ‘My Last Duchess’ and ‘Porphyria’s Lover’

Topics: Poetry, Rhyme scheme, Rhyme Pages: 4 (1610 words) Published: March 1, 2014
IGCSE Coursework
Compare and contrast the methods used by Robert Browning to portray the two speakers in ‘My Last Duchess’ and ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ ‘My Last Duchess’ and ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ are both poems about men who appear to have a compulsive need for control over the women in their lives. However, the speakers appear to be quite different as we see that the protagonist in ‘My Last Duchess’ is a Duke with a high self-esteem and confidence, whereas the protagonist in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ emerges as a depressed man with no apparent intuitions or social life. Browning uses different structural techniques in both poems to portray each character; there are contrasting rhyme schemes and meters to capture their complex mentality. The language and literary devices used to portray the speakers also differs with pathetic fallacy in ‘porphyria’s Lover’ and symbolism in ‘My Last Duchess’.

The presentation of both these speakers in the form of a dramatic monologue enables Browning to aptly portray them, revealing as much regarding their personal life as possible. In ‘My Last Duchess’, the Duke is addressing an ambassador, whereas in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’, we are presented with the speaker’s thoughts. The fact that he isn’t addressing anybody in particular is already discomforting, warning the reader of his insanity. Browning uses rhyme and meter to present certain aspects of these two very different speakers. Rhyming couplets are used in ‘My Last Duchess’; ‘wall…call’ and ‘hands…stands’. This is initially unapparent due to the use of enjambment. This could imply that he’s unknowingly in control of everything, or that he’s attempting to come across as modest. The well organized rhyming scheme and iambic pentameter are there to show the Duke’s power he is exerting upon everyone, despite the fact that he denies having the skill of speech, ’which I have not’, giving the reader the impression that he is gloating, whereas the more unusual rhyming scheme in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’...
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