In this essay, I will be writing about how the relationships between the men and the women are. My main focus is on the relationships of love in all the poems from the pre – 1914 poem clusters. All five poems comprises of including love and the mutual relationship between both the sexes. The themes used throughout the poems are associated with love, jealousy and wealth. These are the three main causes of destruction of one’s life. It can pressurize you to do anything.
For example, in “My Last Duchess” the duke kills the duchess for personal gains and the cause of her death was the duke’s jealousy of the duchess talking with other men joyfully. Also, in ‘The Highway Man’ they show how the wife sacrifices her life to save her husband’s life, this is because of their relationship of marriage, romance and love. When we read the five poems, we gather that the poems all have different motifs of the relationships in the poems.
The authors use language techniques to deliver the impact and emphasis of the poem to the reader such as by using ellipses to create dramatic effects, repetition to render emphasis on the word and imagery to produce a vivid image for the reader to visualize the story. They all differ from each other in many ways. All the poems use different word selections and all the poems use different settings of places.
All the poems have different attitudes towards how the characters portray hate on the basis for their own love or gain, for example, ‘The Laboratory”, the lady in the poem is preparing a potion to kill her husband’s relationship with another woman or lover’s affair with another woman to show how much she is possessive about her husband or lover. There is no reference in the poem to as to she is referring to her husband or lover. In the era of which these poems were written, men were thought to be superior and women were treated no more than merely being house wives.
In some of the poems such as ‘The Laboratory’ the woman is killing another woman to save her own life from being destructed and this issue is all because of her husband or lover. The common relationships between the poems are of how all of the poems involve romance in some form if tied in a relationship or not but however they are mystical, mythical or unrealistic. ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ shows a mystical woman and how the knight falls in love with her. All the poems have two to four characters included which of them two are the man and the woman who are in love or hate relationship and the others being jealous.
My interpretation will be on ‘My Last Duchess’ by Robert Browning and ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ by John Keats. Both titles may tell the reader what the poem is based on and what may happen. In the poem, ‘My Last Duchess’, the duke explains how she was his LAST duchess and what happened to her. Browning’s poem is a dramatic monologue and the ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ being a ballad which is known for the end to be tragic in French meaning the beautiful woman with no mercy. This title shows us how there would be a good looking girl who used her beauty to entice the men.
Ballads are poems that are usually sung in an orchestral manner and emphasises on stress lines. Dramatic monologues is like a speech made by one of the character. The main story of ‘My Last Duchess’ in brief would be that there was a duke who had ordered his wife to be killed as he was not satisfied of her due to her exchanging smiles with other men. He felt unsecured and also jealous of her wife being so beautiful that she could attract other people and that the other men would look at her and compliment her. The core narrative in ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ was about an unknown woman who spoke another language and maybe mythical.
The writer does not give us full details about the ‘lady’ and the information given is vague and is left for the reader to complete her description. The knight meets this mysterious lady that captures him into her trap. “Alone and palely loitering” he is shown as being lonely and depressed throughout the poem and also fantasises in being in love with a “faery’s child”. There are a lot of different ways to explore ideas in the two poems. The methods used in both of the poems are to define the settings to a limit in to where the characters of the poem can be introduced.
In the first two stanzas of ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’, the poet describes the nature by the use of tame animals as ‘no birds sing’ and the ‘squirrels granary is full’. Similarly, in ‘My Last Duchess’ the first 10 lines starts informally with vivid and abrupt information about who the duchess was and who painted the portrait. Noticing that there is no reference of the word ‘duke’ throughout the whole poem and he is only shown as ‘husband’, ‘your master’ and ‘sir’. He does not call himself the duke and he uses his predominance with his royal word selection.
Throughout the poem, in ‘My Last Duchess’, the duke shows him self as being a highly and bossy aristocrat. He dislikes his last duchess because she had a flirtatious nature and she was ‘too soon made glad’. He felt real timid in the sense of losing her. He did not appreciate her flirting with other men. The duke’s attitude is exposed by the ellipses which show the emphasised dramatic pauses. He doesn’t positively comment on the duchess’s personality and only makes remarks on how her body figure is and how his “favour at her breast” was.
This poem is spoken in 1st person with a silent listener. This shows that the duke was not fond of being interrupted between his talks and also he expected the listener to listen well. The duke emphasises on the painting as if it were a masterpiece drawn by a great artist. He also is very proud of ‘nine-hundred-years-old name’ showing the different types of arts he had that he was loved arts of different eras and also getting it specially painted by a great artist who is unknown but told to the readers to be Fra` Pandolf. He places this hand painted picture behind the curtain.
Before her death, she was smiling at every man that she saw, but now she is powered by the duke himself as to who sees the picture and who doesn’t. ‘I gave commands; then all smiles stopped together’ with his one order she is killed or locked up, and this is a matter that needs to be hidden as the law can suspect him fro murder. He was not scared of anyone because he had power and ego that would not ‘stoop’. He gets his servants in to “Notice Neptune, though, taming a sea horse”, Neptune being the Roman god of sea whose chariots are pulled by sea horses. The duke takes the women to be sea horses.
Throughout the poem, the main theme is about jealousy. The duke being very ominous is very arrogant because of his status and power. Out of all the characters, he is at the top of the hierarchy and he also takes law in to his own hands without being ashamed of admitting his crime. This shows that he is in level with god to kill and take lives of people. The duke’s relationship with the duchess was a divine bond of marriage which comprises of some mutual promises. As observed in the poem, he did not treat the duchess like his wife and only used her for a figure and femininity.
He was too over protective over his wife because “her looks went everywhere”. The duke did not want to “stoop” in to wasting his time teaching his wife (s) what he expected them of and to what standards. The duke is also sceptical as he highlights that this is his “last” duchess. ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ is a folk ballad by John Keats. This ballad conveys a moral and a lot of repetition are used to create emphasis. In the first three stanzas there is not much details about the characters and sets the scene as where the event followed by happens.
In the poem, lots of imagery is used to create prominence towards the dramatic effect. For example, “cheeks a fading rose” this line makes the reader visualise the fading pink in their minds. This tries to put the reader in to the book as they are included by imagery. This poem is left for the reader to understand and to allow them to use their imagination. This poem is read out in first person, and there is a silent listener. In the poem, there are many references to warning but it is left aside by the knight as he was captured in to the unknown lady’s web.
Her eyes were wild”, “made sweet moan” and “language strange” shows us that she was weird and abnormal. It also shows how wild she was and the reader can maybe call her to be a vicious animal. In this poem, the relationship is controlled by the unknown lady. They have romance and the knight thought that she said “I love thee true” in a different language being fantasising until he is being made to sleep by the lady. The relationship between the unknown lady and this knight are formal and they are two strangers. They fall in love from the knight’s point of view.
The person saying the poem could be the narrator or an imaginary person. They have no proper relationship between the two other than the romance they have between them. This poem conversely, with the other poem, shows that the woman had more power than the man in this poem because of her beauty and in “My Last Duchess” the man had more power because of his wealth and status. “My Last Duchess” being written in 1842, shows more new English than the “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” which is written in 1819 which is generally old English.
Women were still unequal to men at those times and were thought as a man’s possession and nothing more. They did not have much fame in this period of early pre 19th century poems. Robert browning had more experience in writing poems than John Keats as he died at the age of 26 and “My Last Duchess” was written where Browning was 30 years old. In the poem, “My Last Duchess”, there is a reference to his old name and he is proud of it. He’s been passed this wealth and status by his ancestors. In “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”, there is no context of historical background shown.
In this era, the audience use to be interested in love and hate related poems. We can research that “My Last Duchess” was based in Italy as Ferrara was a city in the north of Italy and “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” being in France or Britain, because the title itself suggests it would be in France. Nearly all men at that era were centric as they had pride in themselves of being a man. The understanding of the knight is clear to the readers whereas the unknown eccentric lady who spoke another language was left half described and this was because Keats wanted the reader to use their imagination to create the other half.
The language of the poems can suggest different states of mind. When we look at the language, we can tell around what year it was written in. The language used would not be written in these days. The formality in “My Last Duchess” can be seen clearly compared to ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ just by looking at the two poems side by side. There is language techniques used in both poems. In ‘My Last Duchess’, Browning uses vague language and also the language evidently shows how the duchess was killed because of her physical appearance and her flirtatious nature.
The poet also includes verbal irony between the listener and the duke. In La Belle Dame Sans Merci’, some old words are used such as “sedge” and “woe betide” which shows the language to be Victorian and to be in old English, whereas in comparison to the “My Last Duchess”, the poet uses words that are understandable in modern English. The structure of the poem is also important. The structure of ‘My Last Duchess includes iambic pentameters for e. g. lines 1-2 from “My Last Duchess”. It also has a ABAB rhyming scheme throughout the whole poem.
The structure of this poem being a dramatic monologue the speaker is telling the whole poem with a silent listener in the poem. There is more dramatic effect and we sympathize with the speaker as he is telling a story from his point of view. The structure of ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ uses a typical ballad-style rhyming scheme by using ABCB. There are 8 syllables in the first three lines of each stanza and the last being 4 syllables. This shows us that the first three lines are longer than the last line which is a quick paced sentence.
This poem being a folk ballad, there is a story in a song and has 4-6 lines in each stanza. Keats also used melancholy as a base theme for the knight as before he met the lady, he was depressed and even after meeting the lady, he is shown as being more depressed and lonelier. Keats shows this distress by the repetition of “alone” in the first and the last stanza which shows he was distressed and still is distressed after falling in love with a mystical woman. All the poems share some common characteristics of the theme of love, hate and jealousy.
They are pre 19th poems which were likely to include these themes in the poem to gain reader’s interest. There are some similarities between the poems. All of them include some sort of romance between the man and the woman but most of them are mystical, mythical or unrealistic or they involve some of the characters to be lonely. Most of the poems also include references to aristocracy. The main key reference is to death. All the poems include death in some form. The poets all use symbolism within their poems by using colour or natural imagery. On the other hand, they also have differences between all the five poems.
The titles of the poems refer to a character in the poem such as “My Last Duchess” being the duchess in the poem, “The Highway Man” being the highway man itself. Jealousy is involved in all the poems other than ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ as there are two people involved and there is no hate but a mystical character takes the life of a real person. Finally, two of the poems are monologues and the other three poems are ballads. My favourite poem was ‘The Highway Man’ because it was a tragic story in a poem and being a ballad it’s meant to be sung.
It is livelier if you are listening to the ballad of this poem being sung. It was a theme based on sacrifice and immense love that the two lovers would give their life away to save the other. There is a solemn understanding between the characters until the third person who is jealous comes in to their peaceful lives to disrupt them and at this extent to have them killed as he was in love with the highway man’s wife. Alfred Noyes uses the typical structure of setting the scene, introducing the characters, the plot and then the ending.
The characters also match with the period as in the pre 19th century, the highway men were seen as romantic figures, bold and dressed formally. The poem I disliked was ‘The Lady of Shalott’ by Alfred Tennyson. I disliked this poem because the poem is really unrealistic and now in modern days, no one believes in curses as much as they do in ghosts. They would rather agree with the knight that he was talking to a unknown lady than to agree with someone getting cursed and then therefore they can only see the town in the mirror’s reflection. It is more like a fairy tale than a poem that’s in a ballad form.