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My Last Duchess

Robert Browning

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My Last Duchess
Added by: Chris L
I have to contrast this poem as well as brownings 'Porphyria's lover'. They are both similar in that they are both about men that are over jealous of there loved ones behavour which gets out of hand. Its chilling and kind of sad. very powerful stuff.
Who controls whom?
Added by: Lisa
There's one addition I'd like to point out. The Duke felt so jealous and affronted by the Duchess that he killed her. He then covers the painting and controls who looks at it and in effect, who her smile is for. But ultimately, he will grow old and die whilst the painting will not. The painting of the Duchess will live on long after her death. Long after the Duke has been forgotten as well. In the end, he cannot control time or his own mortality. Men will continue to look at and admire the Duchess, who will in turn, continue to smile down at them for eternity.
My take on the poem
Added by: Elizabeth
The Duke is speaking to a servant of the visiting Count (“The Count your master's known munificence”), taking the servant on a tour of the Duke’s possessions. The last Duchess—and the painting of her—are part of the tour of the Duke’s possessions.

The title “Duke” is one that can only be inherited, while the title “Count” may be purchased, so while a Count would presumably have liquid (cash) wealth, a Duke might only have non-liquid wealth such as real estate and a nine-hundred-year-old name. So the Duke wanted to show the servant of the Count that the Duke has cash enough to hire the best artisians of the day— Frà Pandolf and Claus of Innsbruck—to paint and cast art for him. The Duke told the servant at the start of the tour the Duke is after is the Count’s daughter and not his money (“I repeat, … his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object”), and now the Duke has illustrated to the servant that the Duke has many inanimate possessions but lacks one animate possession—a duchess.

True to his controlling nature, the Duke is seeking to control the marital transaction he is about to negotiate and seal downstairs. Now that the Duke has demonstrated his cash wealth, murderous disposition and desire bilk a large dowry out of the Count even though he doesn’t really want or need it, the servant wants to run downstairs ahead of the Duke and advise the Count of this information about the Duke. But the Duke won’t let the servant have the chance to advise Count prior to the negotiations (“Nay we'll go Together down, sir”).

Presumably, the Duke and servant go downstairs, and the Duke negotiates the dowry with the Count. Then, later, the servant tells the Count about what he learned from the Duke, and the Count is duped by having negotiated without knowing the Duke’s financial situation and violent propensities. Thus the Duke has controlled the servant, the Count and the transaction.

By the way, I don’t think the last Duchess had sexual relations with other men, but rather that her being nice to those beneath her in class/rank and not distinguishing her responses to the Duke with a much higher praise or smile than she gives to all else beside him, she has committed a betrayal akin to infidelity.

I also think that he had her murdered. The Duke certainly did not end her smiles with a mere discussion, since to do so would be to stoop, which he would not do. The last Duchess is not alive, because the Duke says twice, “as if (she were) alive” so clearly she is not, and because bigamy is not practiced by Dukes (rather by Shoguns and Sultans). We know that the Duke “gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands As if alive”, so the Duke caused the cessation of smiles, oh and by the way, now she’s dead. The obvious underlying presumption is that the only way to stop a smiley person to cease smiling is to kill them, thus resulting in the conclusion that the command given by the Duke was to have the Duchess killed.
Added by: shexi
Brownings focus seems to be on the contained sexuality of the victorian age; a repression emphasised by womens portyal in art. As with 'pophyia's lover', the women are merely aesthetically pleasing objects. When the duchess begins to show characteristics of having free will and defying social convention (she is not as demure as is expected of her), she has to be silenced in order to maintain social order - i.e. male superiority. For those who spoke in the Dukes defence for murder, your points were valid, but it seems to me that Browning makes the Dukes actions so drastic as a means of exposing the metaphorical death of the 'fallen woman'. Adultery by woman was of course condemned severly, and i believe that Brownings aim was to show how unjust was that condemnation. If society could tolerate the man that made the woman fall, why could it not tolerate the fallen woman? It is made worse by the fact that we are aware that the Duke acted only on suspicion - he knew of no infidelity for certain.
Damn straight he was an asshole.
that Duke
Added by: charlie
There's something so relaxed about the style of this poem the Duke really doesn't anger me that much! I mean, its so easy to hate him, but his ignorance of being so cruel, i think, means that i don't!
Added by: Gillian
Thanks to everyone who posted a comment about 'My Last Duchess' It was a great help to me writing my essay for higher english. i was completely confused but i have finished my essay now. all thats left now id for my teacher to grade it.
Added by: Tylor
Yes the duke is jealous, but I think it has more to do with her not seeming to care at all that he had given her something no one else could. Something worth more at the time the poem was set in then anything. Also i highly doubt he saw her only as a possesion, as his marrying her was also intended to be a gift to her. "as if she ranked my gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name with anybody’s gift." His 900 years old name carried a lot of weight and a lot of money with it. It's something no one else could have given her and something that he feels was not appreciated enough. Yes there were other men that she smiled at, but she smiled the same way to her white horse and the sunset, and the jewel he gave her that was positioned at her breast. Therefore while jealousy could have been a motivation it wasn’t the main one. He saw his families name as being a huge gift, but she didn't understand or didn't care just how much it meant to him. In his mind he should not have had to explain why his name was so important. The fact that she could not see its importance made her, at least in his mind, unfit to be his wife and unfortunately for her the Duke was quite serious when he said "till death do us part".
background info.
Added by: Megan
The man the Duke is telling his story to is a man representing the family of his soon-to-be new wife. He says that he could have talked to the Dutchess about his suspicions, and she might have listened, but he never stoops that low-its a kind of warning for his next wife and represents the double-standard of the Victorian age. Also-its important to know that the Duke didn't kill his wife-he had her killed ("I gave commands; then all smiles stopped together.") And after he tells this story he tells the man to make sure the story doesnt interfere with the money he will be getting from his new wife.
my last duchess
Added by: noha
thanks everybody this critical study helped me too much in my study
Added by: dandie hms crew
Robert Browning, a poet born and bred in England, is renown for his two most famous works which are ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ and ‘My Last Duchess’; in this essay I am going to comprehensively compare and contrast a wide range of elements corresponded to the poems. Porphyria’s Lover is about the twisted mind of an obsessive man, whose passion and hunger to be accepted by the judgemental eye of society lead him to capture the moment of his love forever; this was done by the impulsive murder of his lover: Porphyria. The other poem, ‘My Last Duchess’, is about an Italian aristocrat, a nobleman, who wants to remarry to a count’s daughter. The count’s servant visits him and under the surface he reveals his cruelty to his late wife whilst showing off a portrait of her.

Equally for both poems, the type is called ‘dramatic monologue’. This is a single speaker, which is not the poet, illustrating a certain stipulation and from this we learn a lot regarding the Narrator’s character and personal views on the condition or predicament. In a similar note both poems are written in the vision of the male lover’s point of view, I feel Browning may of done this to involve the reader more for it depicts strong emotions and sudden change of moods which a person viewing the incident from the outside would struggle to do.

In the same token the poems involve the male to be the dominant gender for they are the ones with the control of the situation. In both poems the Narrator’s execute their ‘lovers’ yet the motivations towards the execution are evidently different. The speaker in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ is fanatical about his relationship but in the same breath he is also paranoid; he feels that societies unfair judgement will somewhat tear their love apart, this paranoia is the drive and motive of Porphyria’s death. The moment Porphyria tells the Narrator about the love for him, “Murmuring how she loved me”, became the turning point of his unsettled character for the Narrator knew too well that societies flare would break their love apart. So trying to grasp this moment for eternity: he eliminates her,
“In one yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her.”
There is a visible indication that the Narrator’s murder was impulsive, his emotions and passion for Porphyria had him do something he felt was necessary so Porphyria could retain her ‘worship’ for him. The spontaneous slaughter of Porphyria is a contrast towards the planned and spiteful murder of the Duchess. The Duke, being a nobleman, is a man of great status so unlike the Narrator in ‘Porphyria’s lover’ the Duke was able to scheme the assassination of his wife yet at the same time get away from any form of punishment, “I gave commands” and “then smiles stopped together” this collaboratively suggests that the duke planned the murder of the Duchess. He seemed to dislike his former companions behaviour; for she was portrayed to be a person with a graceful heart who shared her love to many others and the Duke was infuriated with this,
“Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere”
The Duke feels that the Duchess obligated her attention to others while disregarding the key person, which in this case was of course the Duke. His main argument was that she didn’t appreciate him,
“As if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old
Name with anybody’s gift”
There is a deep essence of jealousy from the Duke; even though there is no evidence of unfaithfulness the Duke’s ego took command of his emotions; resulting to his wife’s death. Although the motives are different the intent I feel is the same and this intent is ‘greed’. Both Narrators use the females as pieces of property and each wanted to retain their items forever.

Likewise both poems appearances are alike. Browning uses a single-flowing stanza for each poem; this basically means there is only one stanza and its structure is reflected by the trail of thought the Narrator portrays. Browning may have done this so the poem seems more natural and the reader can capture certain thoughts and moods from the Narrator by the structure of lines. The amount of lines in the poems are certainly different because ‘My Last Duchess’ has fifty-six lines in all whereas ‘Porphyria’s Lover ’ has sixty lines all together. Similarly in the poems Browning uses enjambment, this is one line spilling into the next without punctuation; it maintains the train of thought the Narrator is displaying and exaggerates key moments in the poem,
“ Will’t you please sit and look at her? I said
‘Fra Pandolf’ by design for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance
The depth and passion of its earnest glance…”
This gives the poem a sort of liberated dialogue impression. Browning, for both poems, uses the structure of lines to mirror the Narrator’s reaction and to embellish the response he gets, this is shown in the ‘Last Duchess’ when the Duke tries to describe his wife,
“She had
A heart---how shall I say? ---too soon made glad”
We as readers can visibly see that the Duke finds it difficult to understand his wife and this proves they had different values. The way the line in structured with ‘dashes’ shows the Narrator’s difficulty of expression. Browning uses the rhetorical question, ‘how shall I say?’ To emphasise his uncertainty, we find it very hard to believe that a man can struggle to depict his former companion; Browning may of set this structure to show how unjust the Narrator was or even to show the level of ‘power’ the gender’s had at his period. In the same note Browning uses a similar form in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ but used it in a different effect. In ‘My Last Duchess’ its used to show a barrier of compassion between the Duke and his deceased wife but in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ it amplifies the Narrator’s flustering pride and deep happiness,
“Murmuring how she loved me—she
Too weak, for all hearts endeavour”
At this moment the Narrator’s lover, Porphyria, submits her love for him, ‘Murmuring how she loved me’ the structure of the line in this case exaggerates the significance of the love. The ‘dash’ almost seems as if the Narrator needs time for it to sink in and to contemplate on his achievement.

On the other hand the rhyming scheme of both poems are different, yet I feel Browning’s objective for both is very similar. Browning reveals to the reader that the Narrators were calm and untroubled; we are most certainly fazed by their unruffled state for we would assume the situation they are placed in would produce a disturbing side towards their emotions. ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ has a firm 5-line rhyme scheme; it is an odd and disjointed one; with every two non-indented lines rhyming and every three indented lines rhyming giving a pattern of: ABABB,
‘The rain set early in tonight,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex lake
I listened with heart fix to break”
The pattern is evident in this passage with ‘tonight and spite’ rhyming as well as ‘awake, lake and break’. Browning, I sense, has made this rhythm constant for an intentional reason for the stable rhythm conveys that the Narrator is in a calm position. This is why we are certainly shocked when he describes, in a steady rhythm, how he murdered Porphyria:
“…All her hair
In one yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around
And strangled her.”
The lack of passion the scheme conveys is an important factor to the psychotic state of the Narrator. If the rhythm had broken and quickened in dramatic moments, than the speaker would of seemed panicky and aggravated, but instead his calm and mediated manner makes him seem somewhat abnormal. Browning uses a steady balance to reflect the Narrator’s characteristics and he seems to do the same in ‘My Last Duchess’ but unlike ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ the rhyming scheme is more simple with a pattern of: AABB,
“That’s My Last Duchess painted on the wall
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.”
This passage proves the pattern; for ‘wall and call’ rhyme together as well as ‘hands and stands’. Browning uses the simple rhyming scheme to correspond with a balanced rhythm.

Browning makes use of various poetic devices that conducts the frame of mind by the use of the Narrators, one specific device he uses is called ‘pathetic fallacy’ and this is present in both poems. Pathetic fallacy is the attribution of human traits to nature or lifeless objects. In the case of ‘My Last Duchess’ the device is employed when the duke describes the great image of his last duchess’ portrait; Browning exposes it as being almost life-like, as the Duke describes it to the guest,
“That’s my Last Duchess Painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive”
Browning uses the ‘pathetic fallacy’ in an extremely elegant way; the device is used in the first line so we as readers are in uncertainty in understanding if the ‘Last Duchess’ is alive or not; but since she isn’t the Narrator is describing the last Duchess, who is dead, to something which is living, this inflates the actual creative beauty the painting absorbed to the Narrator. Browning also uses the same device in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ yet instead of exaggerating the splendour of an image it used to show the mental imbalance of the Narrator,
“The Sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst vex the lake”
In this case nature is being compared to a human attribute, which are human feelings.
I think Browning uses the nature to reveal the Narrator’s frame of mind. He views the storm as being spiteful, the word ‘spite’ and ‘vex’ show that he may have been in a displeasing temperament. Browning, in each one of the poems, uses the ‘pathetic fallacy’ device at the beginning of each poem; he may have done this so that the reader already gets a peculiar thought of the poem that Browning maintains in the rest of it.

‘Dramatic irony’ is another poetic element that Browning uses in ‘My Last Duchess’; he uses it in a hidden but powerful way. This irony is used to illustrate the Duke’s manipulative and callous character. Towards the end of the poem the Duke refers to the girl he wants to marry as ‘my object’, this can be seen as dramatic irony since the Narrator probably does not want the guest to see him in his true light; for he needs his approval to marry the ‘object’ however he reveals a lot about his personality to the readers and we can see he treats females as ‘items’ that he will gladly ‘purchase’. There is also an ironic attribute in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ and its given effect is parallel to ‘My Last Duchess’. The irony in ‘My Last Duchess’ tells us a lot about the narrators mind and how he feels towards the situation; in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ it shows the Narrator trying to justify his offence,
“Porphyria’s love:
She guessed not how/ Her darling one wish would be heard”
The Narrator believes that what he did was the ‘wish’ of Porphyria, and yet we would have never have guessed that the ‘Narrator’ chose her love as a corpse. The Narrator tries to justify his case by stating that what he done was the wish of Porphyria.

Browning illustrates peculiar images for the reader to align their thoughts in the frame of the Narrator. The images can be striking yet one particular image, which I feel, is the most invigorating for it tells us what Browning wanted to achieve in writing such an ambiguous poem,
“Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-hors, thought a rarity,
Which Claus Innsbruck cast in bronze
For me.”
This image is found at the end of the poem when the Narrator becomes aware of it and shows it off to his guest. The Narrator depicts Neptune, a powerful ‘God’ in Greek mythology who is ‘taming’ a ‘sea horse’, a timid sea creature. Browning shows the readers a clear-cut difference in the level of authority and power and I feel this is the symbolic relation of the ‘male’ and ‘female’ gender in society. The high an omnipresent power of Neptune symbolises the vindictive male powers; it is significant that Browning chose a ‘God’ rather than an influential political leader he may of done this to embellish the order of society a male is seen in the social ladder. Yet Neptune is vulgarly contrasted by a ‘sea-horse’ representing the female as a weak creature but at the same time it is beautiful and elegant. Oddly, the Narrator mentions the image to be cast in ‘bronze’; this seems strange for we know the Duke is royalty, which gives vast evidence that he is wealthy – so why would he have the object cast in bronze, when he could afford to have it cast in a more precious metal such as gold or silver? It may simply be because browning felt the power and bias measures of society towards the genders was disturbing and fowl to his eyes in the same token the ‘bronze cast’ shows it was a common situation for ‘bronze’ is a regular metal. Browning shows a twisted image that sums the whole poems purpose. Likewise in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ Browning displays a disturbing image. It is when he murders Porphyria and tries to justify his actions, having no remorse for Porphyria at all,
“And all night long we have not stirred,
And yet God has not said a word”
The narrator describes that ‘God’ has not moved to punish him; it is very interesting that like ‘My Last Duchess’ the Narrator mentions a ‘God’ but in this it has more power for it has the right to punish him or not. The narrator truly believes that ‘God’, representing the all-commanding supremacy he has accepted what he ahs done was right. The lack of regret shows that Porphyria was only a possession to the Narrator; something he could own. Browning over-exaggerates his possessive obsession by the technical device called repetition, ‘mine, mine’ the repeated words emphasises that the Narrator’s lover belonged to him totally.

The words in the poems are used wisely and sparingly. Equally I feel in both poems words have a deeper meaning which I feel under the surface they have symbolic purposes. In the case of ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ Browning commonly mentions Porphyria’s hair. In my view I feel her hair is the representation of the love she has for the Narrator. This may seem unusual but even at the beginning of the poem Porphyria hair is covered by her hat while she is outside; this shows that their love is ‘hidden’ away form society. However once Porphyria is in the cottage in the present of her ‘lover’ and away form the public she lets her hair fall,
‘ And lets her damp hair fall’
The falling of her hair shows Porphyria, now in the cottage, away form the judgemental eyes she can express her feeling more freely. Again, when she sits by her lover,
“Spread, o’er all, her yellow hair”
This shows Porphyria is draping the Narrator with her love. But as wee see from before, it is the essence of love and the need for eternal possession that lead to Porphyria’s love. Overall, Porphyria’s love- as symbolised, as her hair- was the cause of her death. In the same way Browning uses an emblematic notion in the words used in ‘My Last Duchess’. When the Narrator describes to his guest that his former companion was easily impressed,
“The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her”
Browning uses simple words such as ‘cherry’ but I feel he wanted this to be seen in a more specific and cavernous form. Cherry, being a luscious fruit, may indicate the affection of the Duchess. The Narrator also mentions an orchard this is obviously a cherry orchard- where the cherries are grown, this shows that the duchess had a big heart with a lot of compassion to share however the Duke felt differently. The duke, being a narcissistic man, felt that people were stealing her compassion away from him ‘broke in the orchard’ however as readers we know this is not the case, for affection and sympathy can not be taken but only given. ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ and ‘My Last Duchess’ are poems which are most certainly ambiguous and can seem pointless but I feel Browning wanted the readers to think more deeply about the poem furthermore he aids them by giving symbolic words and phrases which can mean a range of things depending on what the readers views and opinions towards the poems are.

Alliteration is the technical device that is the repetition of initial consonant sounds in neighbouring words. In each poem alliteration is used to gleam attention other descriptions. In ‘My Last Duchess’ the alliteration is used over-embellish the focus of an image,
“Notice Neptune”
The word ‘notice’ invites us to use our sense of sight; this guides us to picture the figure of Neptune however Browning does not describe the distinct appearance of Neptune so as readers we have to envision our own interpretation of Neptune depending on how and what we understand about the image. On the other hand the alliteration focused in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ illustrates a supplementary mental distortion of the Narrator,
“…Her cheeks once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss”
This is a disturbing image that depicts the Narrator giving Porphyria a forceful kiss, after he murders her. It describes that the kiss was powerful enough to raise the blood to the surface of her skin that the Narrator deduces as her blushing with pride. The mental instability of the Narrator can thoroughly be proven in this case, we as readers are shown that he literally feels that the death of Porphyria was a way of preserving each other’s love for one another. Alliteration in Porphyria’s used in much the same content as assonance for it also illustrates concentration to other descriptions such as,
“As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily opened her lids”
The short vowel sounds in ‘shut bud’ give he simile a harsh sound and betrays the murderer’s superstition that in her eyes he will see the last vision of her ‘lover’ ready to affront him like an angry bee.

As the poems are written in a ‘dramatic monologue’ type, they are illustrated in the eyes of the Narrator and the situation is described as the moment is taking place. This basically proves that both poems are written in the present tense. However in ‘My Last Duchess’ there are times when the Narrator reminisces about his former companion,
“She had
A heart…how shall I say? Too soon made, glad”
Even though the Narrator talks about the past the tense never switches but always stays in the present tense. The tense is an essential element to the outcome of Browning’s poems. Browning’s accomplishment of writing the poems in the present tense shows us that the situation of inequality was initiated at his ‘present’ period showing us as readers that he was concerned about this predicament.

There is a wide range of punctuation present in each poem. There are great amount of similarities towards the way punctuation is used in both poems. Equally in both poems the first letter of each line starts with a capital letter regardless of any punctuation in the previous lines. Similarly Browning uses ‘full-stops’ sparingly but wisely and we can notice that there are many ‘semi-colons’ and ‘commas’ used instead:
“Half-flush that dies along her throat; such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and causes enough
For calling up the spot of joy”
We as readers can observe that the lack of full-stops used creates a kind of flowing speech notion, it is as if we are reading at the same rhythm and tempo the Narrator is speaking at. However Browning uses different punctuation devices in each poem for example in ‘My Last Duchess’ question marks is present unlike ‘Porphyria’s Lover’,
“Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile?”
All the questions asked in ‘My Last Duchess’ are rhetorical, this allows the reader to reflect in more depth about the question as well as learn fundamental traits of the Speaker. On the other hand, ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ has not one question mark this may be because unlike ‘My Last Duchess’ the Narrator is not having a one-on-one dialogue.

Personally, I feel, that in the same light both poems are reflected in Browning’s personal tone. Even though Browning has placed the situation upon ‘made-up’ characters I think he personally has felt the injustice he writes about. By the same token the poems have only two main characters: the male and the female; Browning may of done this so we focus on these characters alone and these characters mirror Browning’s moods. He places the characters in frantic and odd situations that are aimed to shock and confuse this shows how deeply Browning feels and gives his objective a greater outcome.

The settings of the poems are related for they are both located in the Narrator’s personal homes. However the setting in ‘My Last Duchess’ seems to be more formal, for the Narrator is trying to make an impression on the counts servant, proving he is liable to marry his master’s daughter. As the poem is set in the Duke’s home it is peculiar that he has a portrait of his ‘last duchess’, a person he got murdered; the portrait seems to be something he can show-off to his guests, “That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall”, the setting is very important for it shows us that the duchess was just another piece of his collection, this embellishes the inhumane nature of the Duke and dominating injustice of the male sex. In a contrasting outcome the setting in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ can be seen in a more unceremonious atmosphere. The main scene of ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ is set in a cottage,
“All the cottage warm”
The setting of a cottage is imperative for it gives a romantic ambience getting the reader ready for a so-called ‘love poem’. The atmosphere seems to be to be wintry and damp,
“ The rain set early in tonight”
The unsettled weather is a powerful contrast towards the warm and cosy atmosphere of the cottage, this I feel, over-emphasises the cottages safe haven image yet ironically it is the gruelling scene of murder taking place; Browning uses this contrasting device to blow the readers in further disbelief.

Browning wrote both, ‘Porphyria’s Lover and ‘My Last Duchess’, which shows they were evidently written at the same era. The contents of both poems especially vocabulary such as ‘Will’t’ and ‘E’en’ show the poems are written in ‘old-English’ which usually dates back to the Renaissance era. The poems show that Browning had strong conflicts upon how society viewed the female gender. Mutually, the poems show the oppressed containment of the female sex however the aim of the topic is branched. In a similar frame we as readers clearly see the greed of both Narrators, Browning depicts that there possessive obsession came to such an extent that it resulted in the deaths of their ‘lovers’. The over dominating power, given to the males, give us a clear-cut image of the level of status each gender stands on. At the period the poem was written, the explicit nature Browning comments on hadn’t been focused on before so this must have been a great astonishment for the readers in his phase. I feel Browning wrote these poems to make people more aware of this ‘unseen’ and ‘unspoken’ inequality. Yet I feel Browning thinks there is no hope and this will be a continuing cycle because both the male Narrators prevail in the end and the Narrator in ‘My Last Duchess’ is even searching for a new wife.

There are diverse moods combined within both ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ and ‘My Last Duchess’. In ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ the main moods are romance, obsession and sympathy. The poem is revolved around a romantic notion,
“ Murmuring how she loved me”
A warm tone is created and we can feel the Narrator is swollen with pride. Similarly the Duke seems to be a very self-righteous man and shows off the duchess’ portrait,
“That’s my last Duchess paint on the wall”
The word ‘my’ shows he is not self-conscious about her but likes the fact he can expose her as his own. However the love for Porphyria seems too much to lose, and the Narrator becomes quite obsessive upon this fact so he does what he feels is the best way to trap the moment for eternity,
“Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her”
Here Browning illustrates the twisted affects of love and we shed sympathy for Porphyria: for she didn’t deserve to be killed so maliciously. On the other hand the Narrator in ‘my Last Duchess’ seems infuriated whenever he mentions the Duchess,
“Somehow…I know not how…as if she ranked
My gift of a nine hundred years old name
With any other name”
The Narrator shows his infuriated mood for he feels that his duchess did not appreciate him. Yet in the same way as ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ the mood slowly depicts into ‘sympathy’ when we hear of the Duchess’ planned murder, “I gave commands” and “then smiles stopped together” this cowardly assassination for no evident reason makes us as readers feel compassionate towards the Duchess as well as disgusted with the Dukes barbaric actions.

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