The two poems ‘Porphyria’s lover’ and ‘my last duchess’ by Robert Browning shows a dramatic monologue. Dramatic monologue is a story that is told by one person; which means you only get one point of view; in the two poems they are based on the narrator’s crisis, his feelings and his way of thinking; and you have to believe it because that is the only view your going to encounter.
In dramatic monologue because you only get one person telling the story, you have to trust his judgements and criticisms and believe or not believe what is being said. It is hard to trust what the narrator says, because in ‘my last duchess’ his wife could of acted completely different to how he was describing her, but you wouldn’t have known; so we have to speculate about other issues we do not encounter and also contemplate about controversies that can occur about only one side being said.
Robert Browning makes the poems very similar in the way he uses poetic devices like similes ‘As a shut bud that holds a bee’ which was used in ‘Porphyria’s lover’ and in ‘my last duchess’ the use of simile is used ‘Looking as if she was alive’; other poetic devices used are rhetoric device which is used when in ‘my last duchess’ the duke is trying to persuade the ambassador that he is a decent person and in ‘Porphyria’s lover’ he is persuading himself that he should kill her so that he can be with her for ever because he loved her so much; crime for passion, ‘A sudden thought of one so pale For love of her, and all in vain’.
Also in the poems the narrator likes to control ‘That moment she was mine, mine’ and in ‘my last duchess’ the narrator says ‘I gave commands’ this showed he had complete control over his wife, and he made it clear he did not like to me messed about. This shows Browning’s fascination with control. In ‘my last duchess’ the duke wants total control over his wife and for is wife to pay full attention to him and cherish everything he gets her and he doesn’t want her to pay any attention to any one else she knows or comes across.
This is in comparison with ‘Porphyria’s lover’ when the narrator wanted the women to marry the narrator, but the women is in a higher class than him socially and in heritage and he is not In a high class, he just has a house and he is insanely in love with her; which comes between them both from the perspective of a proper relationship. She didn’t want to get disowned by her parents because she likes the life she leads ‘Nor could to-night’s gay feast restrain’ which shows she goes to dinners and how she gets money, presents and everything she wants and she would loose that if she married him.
This did not break their love for each other in her eyes because she visited him and wanted a sexual relationship not only based on marriage; but he didn’t think that was enough like the Duke in ‘my last duchess’ he wanted his wife to pay full attention on him and in ‘Porphyria’s lover’ he wanted her to marry him and have a sexual relationship and not get married was not enough for him; he wanted her to have full attention on him and marry him. That’s the way it was in the 19th century if you marry someone of a lower class you get disowned; she liked her wealth ‘and vainer ties dissever’.
At this point he is angry and frustrated that he can not be with her and his lover for her will never fade. In ‘my last duchess’ the wife gets in the way of his boasting, manipulative, controlling way; the Duke did not like how his wife acted and did not like the fact how she appreciated other peoples gift more than his ‘as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody’s gift’. After giving her a name that has been going on nine hundred years and all the gifts he gave her she still preferred the simple things.
He had no control over her like he had no control either so they both resulted to death; which they both then have total control. Both the poems the narrator is driven to murder because they are possessive; they like things to go their way otherwise they get angry, and the duke saw his wife as a adornment to show he has a nice wife and she is superior compared to him, where as Porphyria was driven to murder because she would not marry him and then if he killed her, he will have her for ever.
The comparisons are what differs the two poems from each other; when Porphyria came through the door she shut the atmosphere with her to bring warmth and happiness ‘she shut the cold out and the storm’ Robert Browning uses personification to show the storm that is going on out side and the storm that is going on in his head. This leads him want more from her and to be with her. In ‘Porphyria’s lover’ he is virtually mentally unstable and soon to find out that he is psychotic. He expresses his psychotic-ness when he decides cold heartedly to kill his lover and partner.
Due to him contemplating and pondering in his mind how he could be with her ‘And called me. When no voice replied’ he sat there and thought about how he could stay with her forever and in the end he decided to kill her and strangle her to death, ‘while I debated what to do’ and then ‘I found a thing to do, and all her hair In one long yellow string I wound Three times her little throat around’ this is a long but imperative quote that shows he was mental and it was cold because he debated what to do.
The other point that followed her death that is dissimilar to ‘my last duchess’ is that the women that he liked was in a higher social aspect of her life which was different to ‘my last duchess’ because we assume that she was well brought up the way she spoke ‘she thanked men, – good’ which shows good up bringing but she was a bit flirtatious towards other male people, which the Duke did not like, which Is why he killed her; but in ‘Porphyria’s lover’ he couldn’t marry her because of her higher class and decided that he should do something to maker her his for ever.
The one point that puts the icing on the cake for the readers to make him look even more mental and psychotic is he actually believes that he has given Porphyria what she really wanted, but how would he know if she wanted that if he didn’t firstly ask and secondly once she is dead she could say she wanted it because she has a great prosperous life; she would give it up for him ‘no pain felt she; I am quite sure she felt no pain’ when he said ‘no pain felt she’ he want to reassure himself that he did the right thing and that it was fine but at this point he has got the situation completely wrong and he actually wants to keep her even though she is dead.
Overall the narrator has been driven to sanity and murder by his failure to seize what he wants most and that is Porphyria. In the end Robert Browning says that after all he has done God hasn’t punished him so what he did was the right thing ‘And yet God has not said a word! ‘ Meanwhile in ‘my last duchess’ it is completely different; the characters are not the same and the way he starts the poems are different to. ‘That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall’ more light hearted where as in ‘Porphyria’s lover’ ‘The rain set early n to-night’ this is more cold miserable and chilling. Browning has changed the characters not literally everything about them but most points.
In ‘my last duchess’ the Duke is prosperous very manipulative by the way his wife should of paid more attention to him than others and respect him a lot more and appreciate what he has given her, more than the simple ways of life. In this poem Browning wanted to show his possessiveness because he was the only one that was allowed to open the curtains to his previous wife ‘the curtain I have drawn for you’ nobody else. The story in his mind was what he thinks. He was insanely possessive. He was an extremely jealous person ‘as if she ranked my nine-hundred-years-old name with anybody’s gift’. His partner was flushed with desire, she like to be nice and kind to people so we are told and she is to easily flattered ‘to easily impressed’.
This is also a different story line to the other poem because the duke wants to get married to the count of Tyrol so he has taken the ambassador to look at his possessions, which means the most to him, and talk to him about his last wife and how he does not want to be messed around. Whilst the ambassador was there his job is to talk to the Count of Tyrol about everything so the duke is trying to be in his good side and speak politely and also uses false modesty when he says ‘even had you skill in speech – (which I have not)’ when in fact he has probably got a better speech than him. This is also a case in Shakespeare – Julius Caesar when Brutus his best friends made a powerful speech that drew the people to vote for him and used a rhetorical device which is used to persuade people. This is irony and it is used for effect.