Compare the presentation of relationships in My Last Duchess Essay
In this essay I am going to write about how Robert Browning portrays love in the three poems “My Last Duchess, Porphyria’s Lover and The Laboratory”. All three of these poems are dramatic monologues. Dramatic monologues are a combination of the words dramatic and monologue. The “dramatic” says that it could be acted out, and is a form of drama, however the “monologue” defines it as a speech that one person makes, either to themselves or to another. A dramatic monologue is written to reveal both the situation at hand and the character him/herself.
A dramatic monologue should include a fictional speaker/audience, symbolic setting, talismanic props, dramatic gestures, an emphasis on speakers’ subjectivity, a focus on dramatics, problematics of irony/non-irony and involved readers role playing. Robert Browning was born in 1812 in South London, Camberwell and in 1889 he died in Venice, Italy, He is buried in Westminster Abbey. Browning’s best works were about people from the past in a form of a dramatic monologue. Robert Browning usually wrote about the darker side of human nature.
He showed us how love is not just full of happiness but also sadness and horror. Robert browning was a master of dramatic monologue and used them to show the darker side of human nature. In all three poems love is expressed in three different ways. In the poem The Laboratory jealous love is shown because the women is getting someone to make poison to kill her husband/boyfriend. “Soon, at the King’s mere lozenge to give/and Pauline should have just thirty minutes to live! ” This tells us that she wants her husband/boyfriend to die as soon as possible.
She wants to get her own back on what he did to her in the past. In the poem Porphyria’s Lover possessive love is used. “In one long yellow strand I wound three times her little throat around/and strangled her” This shows us that the love in this poem is possessive because Porphyria’s Lover is committing a murder which means that the lover could not get Porphyria so decided to murder her which meant no-one else would be able to have her. He has killed her in his own way which quite unusual. Not everybody would strangle someone to death by their own hair.
In the poem My Last Duchess obsessive love is shown, as the Duke is still admiring his wife who died 3 years ago, by looking at her picture which is painted on the wall. “That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall, /looking as if she were alive”. This tells us that even though the Dukes wife is not alive he still thinks of her even though she attracted many other men. The 3 three poems that I am analysing all have deaths occurring in them. Porphyria’s Lover is a poem were the victim has been strangled to death by her own hair. In one long yellow string I wound/ Three times her little throat around/ and strangled her”.
This gives us the emphasis that perhaps Porphriya’s lover was too obsessed with Porphyria so he decided to kill her with her own hair and not any other weapon. In My Last Duchess the dukes’ wife’s murder has already happen in the past; but the poem does not tell is how the murder had taken place. It is left suspicious for the reader. “That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall, /looking as if she were alive” From this we are aware that she had died in the past as her portrait is on the wall as a remembrance.
However, in The Laboratory the death is about to take place. The woman is making poison to kill her partner so it can kill him, as she was jealous. “Grind away, moisten and mush up thy paste/Where they are, what they do: they believe me tears flow” This indicates that she is rushing into making the poison as she wants the poison to be done properly and is almost enjoying the anticipation of what is to come. We get a very clear sense of the how the victims are in all three of the poems: My Last Duchess, The Laboratory and Porphyria’s Lover.
However, in neither case do we accept the speaker’s views of the victims because the speaker is obviously biased nor one gives a perspective on their victims from the point of view. The character in My Last Duchess is the Dukes’ wife and from the information in the poem we can tell that she is a beautiful woman, but to the Duke’s mind she had too little pride.
Also the Duke explained that his wife was extremely flirtatious and too easily impressed. She let other men please her and they were not even important to her. Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er/ she looked on, and her looks went everywhere” This line gives us the impression that when the Dukes wife was alive, she was attracted to many men and whenever she went somewhere someone would be looking at her in a flirtatious way and obviously then she would flirt back as she was known to be very flirtatious woman, although she was married to the Duke. The style and structure of the poem adds the effect to the poem. My Last Duchess is written as a dramatic monologue.
This style of poem suits My Last Duchess because the speaker which is Duke comes across as very controlling, especially as he seems to be a little jealous as he could not control his wife’s smile for himself, other men got her looks and smile as well as she was very flirtatious. The victim in the poem Porphyria’s Lover is Porphyria who was strangled to death by her own “Yellow string hair”. From the information in the poem we can tell that Porphyria is a woman who is lively and likes to party.
Which done, she rose, and from her form/ Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl/And laid her soiled gloves by united/ And let her damp hair fall”. This shows us that she just arrived back from a party and the weather outside was very bad. “The sullen wind was soon awake”. The weather is described at the beginning of the poem as angry which enhances the reader to what the poem’s atmosphere will be in the poem. Finally the victim in The Laboratory is being killed by poison which is made by the wife before the king’s party.
She wanted the poison to be done accurately so it did what it had to do which was to kill the man as she is jealous. “Quick—-is it finished? The colour’s too grim! ” This gives tells us that she can not wait any longer, she is getting impatient. The use of colour provides emotion and gives the poem more of an upbeat and a clearer image. The views presented by Robert Browning are bias as we are not told how the victims feel. None of the main characters in My Last Duchess, The Laboratory or Porphyria’s Lover show any guilt of what they have done to the victims.
In all three of the poems Robert Browning uses different ways of expressing this. In The Laboratory the poem is set out in a dramatic monologue however it is slightly different from the other two poems as it is in numbered quatrains. This is when each stanza tells a story of its own but has continued from the previous stanza. This is especially used in The Laboratory as it reminisce of the steps in a scientific experiment. It is showing the steps of brewing up a potion. She uses light humour as she is planning to kill her rival’s as her lover has been ensured by Pauline and Elise; caught up and seduced.
In the last two stanzas it gives us the impression that she is proud of what’s been done. “Now, take all me jewels, gorge gold to your fill, / You may kiss me, old man, on my mouth if you will! ” This quote is telling us that the plan worked and they are very happy. Porphyria’s Lover is also a dramatic monologue, where Robert Browning uses many adjectives to describe Porphyria. “And made her smooth white shoulder bare/ And all her yellow hair displaced”. This is describing Porphyria in a much more detailed way and not just saying her shoulder and hair.
This gives the reader more information and it lets us know that she is being idolised by her lover. The lover does not show any guilt or remorse about the death. “I am quite sure she felt no pain/ As a shut bud that holds a bee” This tells us that he has no remorse for killing her because now that she has died he can have her for himself and nobody else would be able to have her. In My Last Duchess the title is repeated throughout the poems many times and the use of possessive pronoun is significant as he feels he owns her.
That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall” The ‘my’ in the quote shows us that she belongs to the duke and no-one else. Even though The Duke’s wife died in the past he has still kept her picture as she was special to him and her picture is put in a frame to show that she was precious and will never forget her. The Duke speaks in rhyming couplets which make him sound arrogant and confident. Robert Browning does not give us a clear view on whom and how the characters are. The reader is left to figure out how the characters characteristics are through the language and information which is used in the three poems.
In My Last Duchess we are given some detail of how the Dukes wife may have been however there is not too much detail for us to give a clear description on her. Iambic pentameter is used in this poem. This is the amount of beats in a line. There are usually 10 syllables per line. “Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek: perhaps” This is an example for 10 syllables per line. In Porphyria’s Lover we are not given much information on Porphyria or her lover. The main thing we get to know is that Porphyria’s lover is very possessive which then lead to a death and still he had no remorse or guilt. He just wanted the right time to murder her.
The moment she was mine , mine, fair,/ Perfectly pure and good”. This quote tells us that this was the right time to kill her so he got her yellow threaded hair and wrapped it around her little throat three times. The Genre of this poem is very much of a gothic/ genre style as a death occurred after she came back from a party and the weather was extremely horrific. However in the poem The Laboratory there is no clue on the characters characteristics. The poem does not give us any detail on the characters but it just gives us a clear view on what the plan is and how the wife wants his husband to die. While they laugh, laugh at me, at me fled to the drear/Empty church, to pray God on, for them! – I am here”.
This tells us that revenge is being plotted. Revenge is a dish best served cold, so they are waiting for the right moment. I think the way Robert Browning presented us the three poems was unusual but in style as he has not just used simple language but he has used many styles of languages to enhance the poems. I think that Robert Browning’s way of showing obsessive, jealous and possessive love was good as he shows us that there are many types of love which are not considered when we usually think about love in a conventional manner.
Each of the three poems: My Last Duchess, The Laboratory and Porphyria’s Lover shows a different type of love. My Last Duchess shows obsessive love. The Laboratory shows us jealous love and Porphyria’s Lover shows us possessive love. Love is a very strong matter and I think you should think very hard when you choose who you want to be with for the rest of your life or even if you just want to go out on a date with someone. Love is not always about sweets, chocolates and cuddly toys. From Robert Browning’s poems it has come to my attention that even something sweet like love can lead to a something tragic like death.