Treatment of Women in Robert Browning's My Last Duchess and Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress

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Treatment of Women in Robert Browning's My Last Duchess and Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress Sex, lies and intrigue are just a few of the themes explored in “My Last Duchess” and “To His Coy Mistress”. The control men have over women and the control women have over men are also closely observed in these 16th century poems. The two poems also give us an insight to the treatment and presentation of women in that era. The poets, Robert Browning and Andrew Marvell, have used a narrative style to write their poems, however the eye of the poem appears not to be speaking directly to the audience in either case. We shall have to study and compare the content of both poems in order to come to a conclusion…show more content…
The lines which tell us this information are as follows: “She had a heart – how shall i say? - too soon made glad , too easily impressed; she liked whatever she looked on, and her looks went everywhere,” There is evidence in the poem of the duke being resentful and jealous of his wife's admirers when he tells us about how she treated small gifts from other men equally to the way she treats his gift of a family name which is nine hundred years old. We know this from lines 31-34: “She thanked men – good! But thanked somehow – i know not how – as if she ranked my gift of nine-hundred-years-old name with anybody's gift,” The duke's jealousy can also be seen in lines 43-45: “Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt whene'er I passed her; but who passed without much the same smile?” We can see in these lines that the duchess is popular with other men. Perhaps the jealousy shown by the duke is a sign of his possessiveness towards his wife. The suspicion of an affair is revealed to us in lines 3 and 4: “Fra Pandolf's hands worked busily all day and there she stands” The lines tell us that the duchess and the artist had perhaps spent a day together and other lines rise the suspicion of an affair by telling us that the duchess is blushing in the painting even thought the duke himself was not there and that she is revealing herself in the painting to the artist. Lines 13-17
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