My Last Duchess, How Do I Love Thee and A Woman to Her Lover
My Last Duchess, How Do I Love Thee and A Woman to Her Lover

My Last Duchess, How Do I Love Thee and A Woman to Her Lover

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  • Pages: 8 (4149 words)
  • Published: October 9, 2017
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As a part of my English lessons, I have been doing a lot of work on pre-1914 (in 1914, World War I began, causing a big change in literature) poetry. There were three poems I have been focusing on, each written by a different author: firstly, the poem My Last Duchess, written in 1842 by Robert Browning (1819-1889); secondly, A Woman to Her Lover by Christina Walsh, whose life is little known and it is only sure that she’d lived and wrote the poem in 1800s; and finally poem written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) in 1846, called How Do I Love Thee, affected by author’s relationship with Robert Browning.In this piece of coursework I am going to use the knowledge of the poems I gained through working with them and compare them with regard to how the theme of love is expressed and what type of love is shown in each of them. I will also take into consideration how the poems’ aspects affect the reader (where I speak about how something is supposed to make the poems sound/seem like something, I refer to the impact on the reader as it is the reader who recognizes this) and my personal feelings.

The first thing I want to compare is the content of each poem; that means what the poem is actually about. In contrast to My Last Duchess, the poems How Do I Love Thee and A Woman to Her Lover express a real love as we would imagine it; a love of two lovers. Both of these two poems talk about the strong feelings associated with love and its pla

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ce in life; however, there is one point in which they show distinction. Each of the four stanzas of A Woman To Her Lover focus on a different topic; the first one talks about men ruling over women in marriage (”…

o make of me a bondslave / to bear you children, wearing out my life”), the second one is about men loving and ”worshipping” women as beautiful things they own, for how they represent the perfect being (”a wingless angel who can do no wrong”), and the third one is about men understanding women as means of sexual pleasure (”… my body supple only for your sense delight”).All of these topics are expressed as negative in the poem, unlike the last stanza’s topic; true love in an equal relationship where the partners share everything (”.

.. o live and work, to love and die with you”). Consequently, the theme of strong feelings is only to be found at the end; the poem How Do I Love Thee, on the other hand, doesn’t talk about anything else other than how much the speaker loves the one to whom the poem is addressed. It starts with the question ”How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. ” and there are 8 answers of diverse lenghts in the poem, each (except the last one) beginning with ”I love thee”, such us ”I love thee to the level of everyday’s”.

The content of the last poem, My Last Duchess, undoubtedly shows a grea

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distinction to contents of both poems just examined. It is the only one in which a male expresses his feelings, where the main character is not identified with the author, where there is a real story and finally where there isn’t any sign of the actual true love. It tells us the story of a priggish Duke, who had a young wife that was kind and easy to impress; ”She had a heart… oo soon made glad, Too easily impressed.

”. As the Duke was very jealous and thought that she had to love only him, also because of the noble title he gave her through marriage, saying ”as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody’s gift”, he felt really annoyed by her being impressed by other things than him, as he expresses in ”Sir, ’twas not Her husband’s presence only, called that spot Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek”.He, however, thought that telling her that he is feeling bad about something she does would be ”stooping”, and he ”choose Never to stoop”; thus, he decided that the only solution is to get her murdered; we know this as he tells us that he ”gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. ”.In addition, the whole story is narrated to a man who works as a messenger for a wealthy Count when the Duke shows him his house and they come to a painting of the Duchess, as noted in ”That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall”, which is in fact hidden behind a curtain so that no-one else than him could look at it – ”none puts by The curtain I have drawn for you, but I”, and the messenger is in the house, because the Duke wants to arrange a marriage with his lord’s young daughter, who he of course understands just as a way to expand his wealth, which he shows by saying ”no just pretence Of mine for dowry will be disallowed; though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed At starting, is my object”; he is sure that he will get a huge dowry as the Count, her father, is very ”munificent”.

An important aspect of each poem is its structure, as the characters are expressed in it (even more so in case of the Duke, because the whole poem is his own speech written down, and therefore it is wholly representative of him), and as it plays a significant role in making the desired effect on the reader; how the phrases are put together changes the way we look at them and therefore our feelings about the poem. My Last Duchess has a structure of a dramatic monologue and – consequently – is the longest poem out of the three. A dramatic monologue is one long piece of epic poetry that is not split into stanzas, and that has only one character speaking and expressing themselves (Speaker), one character who is spoken to (Listener) and something the speech focuses on (Theme) through the whole text.It also maintains straight forms; rhyming scheme (there are rhyming couplets in My Last Duchess adhering to

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