The narrator in both poems is speaking in the 1st person, amplifying and confessing from the viewpoints of each of the main male characters portrayed in each poem. Mutually the poems display male dominance, along with their arrogance and control of the situation throughout the poems. Traditionally this was probably a typical style used by pre-twentieth-century poets and writers, whereby the man is portrayed as being strong and the woman being weak. Equally the men in these poems apply rhyming couplets and melodramatic monologue whilst describing their feelings.
They are controlled and show their fascination and domination over their lovers’ lives, as they callously manipulated their love. The poems show a power struggle amid good and evil. The two women are perceived as being good, possibly a little nai?? ve and young, who become victims of their own love for a man. Both men are seen as villains, guilty of betraying that love, with their evil deeds. This is an era where men have all the power because they are men, whereby the women are powerless because they are merely women.
Possession is a key issue in both poems. In “My last Duchess”, she has become a mere painting on the Duke’s wall, showing that she belongs to him and no one else. She is set aside behind a curtain in order that the Duke can control who can and who cannot see her “since non puts by the curtains I have drawn for you, but I” (lines 9-10). He always wanted to be the only one who had her smile, now he has achieved this through controlling the viewing of the painting.
In “Porhyria’s Lover”, the murderer wanted to capture the moment of happiness and pride she had displayed to him, prior to her death “murmuring how she loved me” (line 21). He achieved this by ridding her of her last breathe “that moment she was mine, mine, fair, perfectly pure and good” (lines 36-37). In killing her he has ensured that she will love him in death, where as he would have no control if she may at some point stop loving him in life. Both poems show that there are no class barriers when it comes to love, life and death.
Although in one poem the murderer is upper class and in the other poem the murderer is lower class. Both men are guilty of murder, in the case of the upper class man he had someone else to do his unscrupulous work for him “I gave commands; then all smiles stopped together” (lines 45-46). The lower class man commits his own crime in person “three times her little throat around, and strangled her” (lines 40-41). Neither of the men appears to be sane and they show no remorse for their lewd actions, in “Porphria’s Lover” he says “And thus we sit together now” (line 58).
In My Last Duchess, the Duke almost gloats off his actions and indicates that he is justified as a husband, man and Duke should be. The Duke will undoubtedly receive no punishment for his crime due to his prominent stature and the fact that his wife was of a lower status than him. I presume that the lower class man will be severely punished (possibly with his own life taken) due to his lack of status and the fact that his lover appeared to be of upper class standing. For my part, I prefer the poem “Porphria’s Lover”, as it conjures up all different types of emotions within whilst reading it.
I found “My last Duchess” poem, although good, to be less intriguing and enthralling. The distortion in “Porphyria’s Lover” comes about by permitting the reader to assume, in the beginning, that the poem is romantic and sentimental whereas at the end we ascertain that his love is obsessive and deranged. The murderer feels that he must kill her in order to keep her love eternally, devoid of him realizing (either through vanity or insanity), that taking her life is the same as taking her love and extinguishing it.
In “My Last Duchess”, the Duke’s love is much more restrained in love, but is equally as menacing. The Duke boasts about all of his possessions, together with the last Duchess, he has no regard for anyone or anything other than himself and what he can get from life “and seemed as they would ask me, if they durst” (line 11). I feel no pity for either of the villains, as their selfishness repulses me. I do however feel immense sympathy for the two women that became their victims in both life and death.