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    Comparison of “Porphyrias Lover” and “My Last Duchess” Essay

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    These two poems have many things in common they both are written by the same poet Robert Browning. ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ and ‘My Last Duchess’ are written through the eyes of the murder and are dramatic monologues. I suppose they can be seen as biased and one sided as the story is only told by one person. They also have a silent listener. In ‘My Last Duchess’ the silent listener is the Ambassador for the Count, who is the father of the Duke’s next bride.

    My Last “The Count your master’s known munificence

    Duchess: Is ample warrant that no just pretence

    Of mine for drowy will be disallowed;

    Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed

    At starting, is my object.” (Page 8 lines 49-53)

    In the quotation written above the reason in which why I think that he is talking to the Ambassador of the Count is that Robert Browning uses the word Count and his fair daughter’s both emphases that he is talking to someone about his next Duchess.

    In ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ the silent listener could be a number of people it could be a police officer, or he could just be telling the story to a friend. The reason why I am not sure of whom he is talking to is that there is no evidence in the poem, which tells me who he is talking to.

    As the poems are dramatic monologues you get to learn about some of the characteristics of the characters. You gain knowledge of the Duke being cold, ruthless and possessive. The characteristics that you discover about Phorphyria’s Lover, is that he is abnormally possessive lover, passionate and obsessive. From the knowledge of the characters you are given through the poems you see that they are both possessive and this is the reason why both of the characters kill their lovers. Because of all the jealously and possessiveness going on it gets too much for them and they kill their loved ones to get what they want.

    Phorphyria’s “To set it struggling passion free

    Lover: From pride, and vainer ties dissever,

    And give herself to me forever” (Page 30 lines 22-25)

    My Last “Since none puts by

    Duchess: The curtain I have drawn for you, but I.” (Page 8 lines 9-10)

    In ‘Phorphyria’s Lover’ you learn that he does kill her through possessiveness because it says ‘And give herself to me forever’ and if you want something to stay with you for ever then that is possessive as he didn’t want no one else to have her, not even her husband. The lover also shows to be possessive by saying ‘That moment she was mine, mine’. He feels that by killing her it makes her, his that he has won her love forever and that she won’t ever forget him or leave him.

    In ‘My Last Duchess’ you are taught that the Duke is possessive by him saying ‘I have drawn for you, but I’ which he is saying that he is keeping the curtain in front of the picture he has of her shut so no one can the see Duchess but himself.

    The language used by Robert Browning makes the Duke and the Lover very similar although he uses different language in the poems. Both the Duke and the Lover gets jealous of the way that Phorphyria and the Duchess are living their lives. The Duke feels as though he is not important to her as she gives him the same smile as she gives everyone else. The same smile when she receives a little gift and the same smile when he gave her a nine hundred year old name. To the Duke that nine hundred year old name is much more of an honour and privilege and should receive a better smile than anyone else. He feels as though she should act differently around him. He is jealous of her smile and the way that she goes about her life and the way that she blushes at almost everything.

    My Last “all and each

    Duchess: Would draw from her a like the approving speech,

    Or blush at the least.’ (Page 8 lines 29-31)

    The Lover in ‘Phorphyria’s Lover’ is jealous but for a different kind of reason. The reason why the Lover is jealous is because Phorphyria cannot only be his as she already has a husband. The Lover believes that Phorphyria does not worship him or love him as much as he wants as same of that affection would be going to her husband. This is until the night that Phorphyria goes to him during the storm and he then realises that she does in fact worship him. All this jealousy stops for a few moments and he wants to keep this moment forever and the only way he thinks he can do this is by killing her. He also believes that he has granted her, her one and only wish. That wish was to be with him forever.

    Phorphyria’s “…she guessed not how

    Lover: her darling one wish would be heard.’

    “Phorphyria worshipped me’

    By the Lover thinking that Phorphyria worships him he thinks that he is above her (in class) as you only worship someone of a higher and more dignified class. In ‘My Last Duchess’ the Duke is of a higher class than the Duchess because she chooses to stoop.

    My Last “-E’en then would be some stooping; I choose

    Duchess: Never to stoop.”

    He believes that he shouldn’t stop because he is too dignified. He also doesn’t choose to tell the Duchess how he feels which leads him to the jealously as the Duchess does not stop stooping.

    The relationships between the Duke and the Duchess and Phorphyria and her lover are quite different, almost opposite. Phorphyria and her lover are very close and affectionate and passionate and the Duke and the Duchess are cold and almost distant to each other. This relates to the atmosphere and mood being different. In ‘My Last Duchess’ the Duchess is giving her love and attention to the people giving her compliments and gifts, whereas Phorphyria is giving all of her love and attention to the Lover. The Duchess and Phorphyria both do not car about stooping to different levels. The atmospheres in the poems are quite different due to how the men react around their lovers. In ‘My Last Duchess’ the atmosphere feels as though the Duke and Duchess only see each other occasionally.

    My Last “Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without

    Duchess: Much the same smile?” (page 8 lines 44-45)

    The word passed in this the quotation above emphasises the fact that the Duke and the Duchess are distant from each other. By using the word passed in this kind of content tells me that they don’t see each other much. The word Whene’er also has emphasises on this because whene’er gives you the impression that they only pass by each other on the rare occasion and if they do pass each other they don’t talk they just smile.

    You realise that Phorphyria and her lover are affectionate and passionate towards each other by the atmosphere in the poem. When Phorphyria is not in the cottage with her lover the weather represents the way that the lover feels. When she’s not there he feels angry because he thinks that nature is purposefully having a storm so that it will prevent Phorphyria from getting to him.

    Phorphyria’s “The rain set early in tonight,

    Lover: The sullen wind was soon awake,

    It tore the elm tops down for spite,

    And did its worst to vex the lake:

    I listened with heart fit to break”

    He thinks that because of the bad weather Phorphyria will not come to him. However when she does turn up the weather changes in the cottage suddenly the cottage is filled with warmth, and so does his heart as it doesn’t break because she does show up.

    Phorphyria’s “She shut the cold out and the storm,

    Lover: And kneeled and made the cheerless grate

    Blaze up, and all the cottage warm…”

    You know here that t Phorphyria and her lover’s love is affectionate as she travelled through a very violet storm for him and left a large banquet for him. You also find out that their love is passionate because as soon as she gets to his cottage she tells him how much she loves him.

    Phorphyria’s “Murmuring how much she loved me…”


    It is because of their relationships with their partners that made them kill their loved ones. They are completely the opposite once again. The lover killed Phorphyria because she loved him and worshipped him and wanted to be with him forever and not to go back to her husband. The Duke kills his Duchess because she doesn’t give him enough affection or attention.

    Phorphyria “That moment she was mine, mine, fair

    Lover: Perfectly pure and good: I found

    A thing to do, and all her hair

    In one long yellow string around

    Three times her little throat around…”

    The quotation above is when Phorphyria’s Lover realises what he is going to do to Phorphyria. He decides to strangle her “yellow string around

    Three times her little throat around…” and he does this thinking it is what she wants. He believes that Phorphyria wants to be with him forever and that she wanted to die so that she could be with him all the time. He thinks this because of the affectionate way that she is acting around him. He is surprised when he realises that she worships him. Robert Browning uses a semi-colon in line thirty-three which emphasises the fact that he is surprised as there is a pause.

    Robert Browning uses that same type of technique in ‘My Last Duchess’.

    My Last “Much the same smile? This grew; I gave command;

    Duchess: Then all smiles stopped together”

    By Robert Browning using two semi-colons in one line I got the impression that maybe he thought of the idea of killing her at the first semi-colon, then at the second semi-colon I thought that the Duke could be thinking one of two things. He could be thinking twice about the decision/command that he just gave or he could be happy about the fact that from that moment forward it will be only him getting the affection and smiles (the picture in his gallery is only for him to see).

    Robert Browning makes the Lover in ‘Phorphyria’s Lover’ and the Duke in ‘My Last Duchess’ similar as after they both have killed their lovers they both think that they haven’t done anything wrong. They also believe that their lovers are both with them forever and that no one else other than themselves will be getting any of their affection.

    Phorphyria’s “And all night long we have not stirred,

    Lover: And yet God has not said a word.”

    By the Lover saying that God has not said a word he believes that he has done nothing wrong.

    In these two poems it seems to me that the two ladies involved are very beautiful and very friendly towards others and don’t care about class. They do choose to stoop in a way as the Duchess blushes at compliments and Phorphyria is having an affair with a poorer man than herself. You know that the Duchess was beautiful and passionate as she blushes at compliments and blushing is a sign of beauty. “Half-flush that dies along her throat…” and “the depths of passion of that earnest glance”. You also know that Phorphyria is beautiful and passionate because she has blonde hair and blue eyes. “In one yellow string…” and “Laughed the blue eyes…” You know that Phorphyria is passionate because of her name. Phorphyria is the colour red and you associate red with passion.

    The Duke seems to have a lot of power as he just orders the soldiers to kill the Duchess and they do.

    My Last “Whene’ver I passed her, but who passed without

    Duchess: Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;

    Then all smiles stopped together…” (page 8 lines 44-46)

    In the same sort of way the Lover (in “Porphyria’s Lover”) had just as much power but under different circumstances. He thinks that it is Prophyria’s wish is to stay with him forever (he comes to this conclusion by finding out that she worships him). This quotation tells you this.

    Prophyria’s “So, she was come through wind and rain

    Lover: Be sure I looked up at her eyes

    Happy and proud; at last I knew

    Prophyria worshipped me…” (page 30 lines 30-33)

    He is convinced that Porphyria worshipped him because she left an important feast and travelled through a storm just to be with him. He may have made the wrong decision but he had the power to kill her physically.

    Porphyria’s “That moment she was mine, mine fair

    Lover: Perfectly pure and good; found

    A thing to do, and all her hair

    In one yellow string I wound

    Three times her little throat round…”(Page 30 lines 36-40)

    The two poems written by Robert Browning are very similar yet also very different. They are similar in the fact that they are both dramatic monologues and that they are both involve murdering someone that they love. The differences between the poems are the language used during the two poems. In ‘Phorphyria’s Lover’ the language is trying to make you feel sorry for Phorphyria but also it makes you feel for the Lover. However in ‘My Last Duchess’ the language is trying to persuade you that the Duke did the wrong thing killing the Duchess. Both poems give you a lot of information on how the Duke and the lover are feeling. Overall I think that the poems are similar as they basically have the same plot and the same kind of characters.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    Comparison of “Porphyrias Lover” and “My Last Duchess” Essay. (2017, Oct 24). Retrieved from

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