Browning Poem revision notes for character and form

My Last Duchess and Porphyria's Lover revision notes

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Browning
Context
o
Form
Browning uses the form of dramatic monologue in Porphyria's Lover and My Last
Duchess
Informal free verse to make it seem like speech
Browning is a silent poet
o The narrator is the homodiegetic implied author
The narrator becomes the eye of the poem and it characterised through their own
speech
o There is an unwitting revelation of the narrator's character
There is an epiphanic moment of revelation in the poem
o MLD ­ `all smiles stopped'
There is only one privileged narrative
The reader response theory is used to decipher the aporias in the text
Other characters are often constrained
o PL- porphyria has no direct speech or verbatim and is objectified
o MLD ­ the duchess is constrained and also has no speech
My Last Duchess
o Heroic couplets
o Iambic pentameter
o Implied author
o Silent poet
o Dramatic monologue
o No end stops
o Use of caesura and enjambment to avoid the closure the heroic couplets would bring
and instead drive the poem to the epiphanic moment
o Juxtaposition of characters ­ the duke and the duchess
The duke:
Implied, homodiegetic narrator
Unpleasant
Proud
o `as if she ranked my gift of a nine-hundred-years old name with
anybody's gift'
Paranoid
Psychotic
o Makes flippant remarks about the death of the duchess
`looking as if she were alive'
o Casually changes the subject
`will't please you rise'
Jealous
Possessive
o Shown in the titular My Last Duchess
o Makes it seem as if he has had many duchesses

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Objectifies his future bride
`at starting is my object'
o Speaks about her in terms of commerce and monetary value
`of mine for dowry'
Controlling
o There appears to be a rigid AABB rhyming pattern of heroic couplets
however this is masked by the enjambment and caesura throughout
the poem to change the rhythm and make it free (blank) verse: does
not use end stops
This does not create a sense of closure at the end of the
heroic couplets but instead continues the driving…read more

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The duchess:
Absent character
o Has no voice, no direct speech, no verbatim
o The duke controls the narrative voice of the poem and so dominates
her voice
o Gives even the artist an identity and name with synecdoche but
never does the same for his wife who remains passive
o He personifies the painting to become her
`that's my last duchess painted on the wall'
Connected to nature
o Use of the semantic field of nature
`bough of cherries' `dropping of the daylight'
o…read more

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His emotions are expressed with pathetic fallacy
o The wind is given a spiteful and agitated personification that is echoed in the
narrator
o Psychotic
o Is fully aware of the actions he is about to take
`while I debated what to do'
`I found a thing to do'
o Obsessive
Meticulously lists her actions as if he is observing and analysing her
every move
o Achieves dominance through killing porphyria
o Sees himself as god once Porphyria has given him power but saying she…read more

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­ the dead porphyria could
not contradict his fictional porphyria
o `the blue eyes without a stain'
o Objectifies her in death so she becomes like a doll with synecdoche
`smiling rosy little head'
Makes her into an object he can manipulate
o Negative adjectives are used to show how she was stained but now he can
truly project what he wants her to be onto her
`soiled'…read more

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