Compare and contrast My Last Duchess and Porphyria’s Lover

Robert Browning poet 1812-1889 writes both his poems (My Last Duchess and Porphyria’s Lover) as dramatic monologues, in which a story is revealed with characters and events through a one sided conversation.

In My Last Duchess the story is told by, the Duke of Ferrara, who is talking about his last wife. He is talking to the Ambassador to the Count, who’s daughter the Duke wants to marry. I think that this is shown in the following lines of the poem.

“The Count your master’s known munificence

Is ample warrant that no just pretence

Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;”

Where as in Porphyria’s Lover, the lover is telling the story. You can’t tell whom the lover is talking to but I believe that the lover is talking to himself and is trying to justify what he has done, which was murdering Porphyria.

“I am quite sure she felt no pain

As a shut bud that holds a bee,

I warily oped her lids: again

Laughed the blue eyes without stain”

In both poems, there are ties to the upper class in My Last Duchess it is more spoken of than in Porphyria’s Lover, which only has a few lines linking to the upper class.

From Porphyria’s Lover these four lines link Porphyria to the upper class.

“From pride, and vainer ties dissever,

And give herself to me forever.

But passion sometimes would prevail

Nor could to-nights gay feast restrain.”

This shows that Porphyria has come from a feast to meet the lover, and I think that the feast shows that perhaps she was at an upper class party and had left that to see her lover. I think the first line of the quote is important too especially the “vainer ties” as I think that also shows a link to the upper class. Also during the period it was written (1812 – 1889) only the rich were able to afford to have feast.

In My Last Duchess there are several lines, which ties the poem to the upper class, but of course in the poem the person who is speaking is a duke, whom are as a rule of thumb generally upper class people.

“Together down, sir Notice Neptune, though,

Taming a sea horse, thought a rarity,

Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me”

I choose this section of the poem to back up my point, as it is about the duke talking about a rare statue that he has which was cast in bronze, which certainly only the rich could afford. I think he also mentions the statue to the ambassador as he is perhaps trying to show him an example of what the duke could possibly want as a dowry to marry his master’s daughter.

In both poems, there is talk about both the duchess and Porphyria being unfaithful. In My Last Duchess, it never says that the duchess was having an affair, but the duke was jealous of her talking to the servants and treating them as well as she would treat the duke, this ultimately is the reason we are told in the story that see is killed. In porphyria’s Lover however I believe that Porphyria is cheating on her husband, who I believe is upper class with the lover whom I believe is a common person.

Porphyria being unfaithful to her husband isn’t the reason she is murdered. I believe that the reason that Porphyria was murdered was because lover finally realise that Porphyria loves him and he panics not knowing what to do and by doing so, he kills her. I believe that this part of the poem is about a different thing. I believe that when he realises that Porphyria loves him.

” Porphyria worshipped me: surprise”

“That moment she was mine, mine, fair,

Perfect pure and good: I found

A thing to do, and all her hair”

Because he doesn’t feel the same way, he doesn’t as it says in the poem kill her, but he does what Porphyria would find just as hurtful, but tells her that she doesn’t love her.

“In one long yellow string I wound

Three times her little throat around,

And strangled her. No pain felt she,”

I think the part “No pain felt she;” is basically saying he tried to let her down gently trying not to hurt her feelings so much.

The reason the duchess is killed in the poem M y Last Duchess, is because she treats ever one the same and doesn’t treat the duke specially.

“Much the same smile? This grew, I gave commands

Then all smiles stop together there she stands.”

I think he is also jealous that the duchess is polite to everyone and smile at them.

“Or blush at least. She thanked men good! But thanked

Somehow – I know not how – as if she ranked

My gift of a nine – hundred years old name

With anyone’s gift. Who’d stop to blame.”

The duke is not bothered by his actions at all and shows no remorse for what he has done. I think that the duke justifies him killing the duchess by his power as he has lots of power and I believe he takes it for granted. I believe the duke is greedy and only wants the dowry form the count to marry his daughter.

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