A Comparison of the Attitudes of Men towards Women Essay
The four poems, ‘First Love’ by John Clare, ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ by Robert Browning, ‘My Last Duchess’ by Robert Browning and ‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell, all deal with aspects of relationships with women, but their attitudes thoughts and actions towards them are very different.
I will comment on how each poet has shown the man’s attitude by referring to content, form and language used.The poem ‘First Love’ by John Clare, is a traditional poem for its time, with three verses each with eight lines with eight syllables in each line. The rhyming scheme for this poem, a, b, a, b, is also traditional.The title ‘First Love’ implies strongest love and this is the man’s attitude through out the poem,”I ne’er was struck before that hourWith love so sudden and so sweet.”This was the first time he had ever seen the woman, hence the use of “struck”, it also implies that it came as a shock to him so his emotions were very sudden, love at first sight.
The use of alliteration, “so sudden and so sweet,” stresses that the emotions he felt were passionate and powerful.He described the woman as beautiful,”Her face it bloomed like a sweet flowerAnd stole my heart away complete.”He believed that her beauty was the reason for his intense feelings of real love. The comparison of her face and a sweet flower is used because flowers are associated with natural beauty and the man thought that her face flourished like that of a ‘sweet flower.’She astounded the man with her presence,”My face turned pale as deadly pale,My legs refused to walk away, “He was transfixed by her beauty and lost all his physical will. The simile used tocompare the man’s complexion is used to show how deeply she affected him so much so that all colour drained from his face.
He then began to think about her and lust after her,”Words from my heart did start;They spoke as chords do form the string”He began to think deeply about her, this is implied by the fact that the poet states that the man’s thoughts came from the ‘heart’. A simile is used to compare his thoughts for her to chords from an instrument, such as a harp, this used because to create music from an instrument is clear and flowing like that of the man’s emotions.There is also a sense of self-pity from the man,”Are flowers always the winter’s choice?”He did not think he had a chance with this woman. A metaphor is used to create imagery. Flowers are associated with love but winter is seen as bleak and harsh, so the man is questioning if love is always meant to be cruel and bring unwanted feelings.
Then he questions whether love will always be like this for him by the use of “Is love’s bed always snow?” Snow is seen as cold and bleak similarly to winter and the poet uses ‘love’s bed’ because a bed is somewhere you rest, so it is used to show that the man feels that love rests on cold and bleak feelings.He believed that he would never be able to love anyone the same way as he did with her,”My heart has left its dwelling-placeAnd can return no more.”After seeing her, his emotions changed irreversibly because of the strong feelings of love he felt for her. He would never be able to love anyone else with the same intensity as he had her.’Porphyria’s Lover’ by Robert Browning, is very different to ‘First Love’ in almost every aspect.
It resembles a dramatic monologue because of its length and continuous verse; this makes the poem seem story like. Although ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ is similar to ‘First Love’ because of it’s rhyming scheme; a, b, a, b and its eight syllable lines, this helps the poem to flow.’Porphyria’s Lover’ implies an affair because of the use of ‘Lover’ and the woman’s name being ‘Porphyria’; this was a traditional name when the poem was written.The man was cheerless when ‘Porphyria’ was not there,”The rain set early in to-night,The sullen wind was soon awake,It tore the elm tops down for spite,And did its worst to vex the lake;”Pathetic fallacy is used here to set the scene and to show how the man views his surroundings when his lover is not there.
This could also show some of the man’s emotions by uses of certain words; ‘spite’ and ‘vex’, these may be some of his feelings towards ‘Porphyria’ as she was not there with him.’Porphyria’ was of higher status to him,”When glided in Porphyria”This shows her elegance just by the way she walked. He paid great attention to her, like the man in ‘First Love’; he took notice of everything about her including the way she entered.His views of the surroundings changed once ‘Porphyria’ was there,”She shut the cold out and the storm,And kneeled and made the cheerless grateBlaze up, and all the cottage warm;”This contrasts to the first four lines in the poem where he saw everything as dull and miserable. Her presence changed his mood, making his surroundings seem better and more cheery.He was angry at her for not being there with him,”And called me.
When no voice replied,”He ignored her to show his how he felt about her not being there with him. The caesura is used to indicate the silence after she had called to him.There is an intimate relationship between ‘Porphyria’ and the man,”She put my arm about her waist,And made her smooth white shoulder bare”She wanted his attention and revealed quite intimate parts of her body to him, these actions show more than friendship because of the way she makes him take notice of her.’Porphyria’ was scared to make their relationship open,”sheToo weak, for all her heart’s endeavour,To set its struggling passion freeFrom pride, and vainer ties dissever,”He saw her as weak because she did not want to leave everything for him. She was of higher status and had other commitments, like marriage, that she did not want to lose, this is shown by, ‘From pride, and vainer ties dissever.’He is ecstatic when he realises she finally loves him,”Made my heart swell, and still it grewWhile I debated what to do.
That moment she was mine, mine,”Before that moment he was unsure if she had felt the same way as him and his sudden realisation of her love shocked him and he felt a sudden rush of strong emotions making his ‘heart swell’. The repetition of ‘mine’ is used to emphasise that now he knew ‘Porphyria’ loved him wholly and he classed her as his whereas before she had only partially given him her love.He then became obsessed with her resulting in psychotic actions,”In one long yellow string I woundThree times her little throat around,And strangled her.”The sudden rush of his emotions because of her love brought about his violent actions as he wanted to keep her as his forever and he could not see another way of doing this other than by killing her. The caesura is used after ‘And strangled her,’ because the tension has been built up until this point and now he has released his tension, by killing her, so everything halts after this.
He then tried to convince himself that his actions were acceptable,”No pain felt she;I am quite sure she felt no pain.”He did not want to cause her any pain, as he loved her so he repeats himself to reassure himself that he did not. The simile, “As a shut bud that holds a bee”, is used to compare her eyes during death to how a flower holds a bee because as it is delicate and slow but also firmly closed like ‘Porphyria’s’ eyes.He believed that he she would have wanted him to react the way he did,”And I, its love, am gained instead!Porphyria’s love: she guessed not howHer darling one wish would be heard.”Again he is justifying his actions by telling himself that now she can be his forever like she wanted.
He is happy because now all of her problems were solved; she had no other commitments and she can now be with him evermore. This shows that he is insane because he is happy to have his love dead just so he can have her for himself. This is very different to ‘First Love’ as he realised he could not have her so did nothing but the man in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ was so obsessed that he sought extremely violent actions to make her his.