Compare the Central Characters in ‘Medusa’ and ‘My Last Duchess’

2121 Words Sep 8th, 2013 9 Pages
Compare the central characters in ‘Medusa’ and ‘My Last Duchess’

Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Medusa’ and Robert Browning’s ‘My Last Duchess’ are two entirely different poems in many respects. Written in entirely different eras, some would say that they are as opposite as poetry could be. However, their central characters have some remarkable similarities that strike a chord with the reader and represent a common theme. In each of the poems, both Medusa and the Duke of Ferrara represent the fickleness of power and how it fluctuates in daily life. Duffy’s manipulation of a paradox within ‘Medusa’ displays the extent to which power plays a part in the Greek myth of Medusa. The extended metaphor of Medusa with “filthy snakes” that “hissed and
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He calls the painting of her “a wonder” and does not elaborate upon this, suggesting that while he was fond of his wife, their love was quite subdued. This allows him to remain calm and present a dignified front. However, as the poem continues, he becomes more obsessive over her and speaks quite aggressively of what he deems to be promiscuous behaviour. The “bough of cherries some officious fool broke in the orchard for her” seems to be a major part of his outrage, as he is offended that “she ranked my gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name with anybody’s gift”. By telling his companion of this in a conversation that merely started with mention of a painting, the Duke reveals that he is very much not in control of himself. These constant tests of his patience – which seem very much unintentional on the Duchess’ part – seem to weigh heavily on the Duke’s mind as he says “here you miss, or there exceed the mark” showing heavy criticism on the Duchess. He wanted her to “let herself be lessoned so”, which shows the extent to which her behaviour troubles him. It also creates the air of superiority in that he sees himself as a sort of teacher, and her as the student. The loss of control comes where “all smiles stopped together”, suggesting a macabre end to the story. Both Medusa and the Duke seem to cause destruction and chaos around them as a direct result of being emotionally impacted by those they love. This weakness
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