Robert Browning Poems: My Last Duchess and Porphyria's Lover

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Robert Browning is one of the most celebrated poets of the Victorian age. His two poems I am working from, "My Last Duchess" and "Porphyria's Lover", are just samples of his eminent work. Browning wrote a range of monologues when living in Italy with his wife, Elizabeth Barret. Dramatic monologues are the basis of the essay. I will discuss whether (or not) each poem "creates a character who reveals himself in what he has to say".

My Last Duchess is a monologue spoken by the Duke. He talks about his relationship with his recently deceased wife. Through the words of the poem, he reveals the true demise of the Duchess and the reader is shown the Duke's feelings and opinions of this woman.
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It can also give him leeway to committing abnormal actions.

Both poems share many similar qualities. In the case of themes of a poem, they both have connotations of power, control, love, society, possessiveness, and jealousy. As the poems are monologues, these themes will come from the thoughts and feelings of the male character. If we look at the two males of the poems, it is clear both yearn for a branch of power and feeling of superiority over the lover.

The Duke wanted to obtain the supremacy he expected over his wife. The Duke had expectations, from his position in society, that the Duchess should obey him and show only love and gratitude towards him. Now she is fossilised in a painting, he holds all the power and the Duchess is completely reliant upon him. For example, when the Duke talks about the curtain surrounding the painting, he says:

"(Since none puts by

The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)"

It is clear that the Duke is aware of the control he holds now. He is the only person that can open the curtain. The veil around her cuts off her life as a painting. The Duke can choose to present her to the world or draw her away from the stare of the people. Though, now she is dead and kept hidden in this painting, the Duchess must hold something over the Duke to make him open the curtain and look at her.

The feelings of power that the 'Lover' in
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