The sample essay on My Last Duchess Rhyme Scheme deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.
The two poems studied from the nineteenth century on love and loss give a very different view on love and marriage. A woman to her lover, by Christina Walsh gives a view of a woman wanting co-equal love, whereas in My Last Duchess by Robert Browning, there is a view of patriarchal love and dominance by man.
These are both very different views on love, however in A Woman To Her Lover, the views expressed in these days would be seen as rational and what is accepted.
In the days which it was written it would be seen as discordant. This essay will focus on comparing the form and language of both poems and how these techniques help to present their views on love and marriage. Along with form and language, this essay will also comment on the use of rhetorical questions, personal pronouns, the use of exclamation marks, imagery and repetition.
In A Woman To Her Lover the poem is based on a four-stanza reply to a question, ‘If that be what you ask’. We can see that she has been asked to marry and she is setting out the guidelines. The poem also has no set rhyme scheme or rhythm; it also rejects traditional conversion and rules. In the nineteenth century there were ‘rules’ which women had to follow and what was expected of them, but this freedom in which the poem is written expresses the freedom that the writer is asking for in the relationship between her and her lover.
The freedom in the poem represents the freedom asked for in marriage.
My Last Duchess is written as a dramatic monologue, the speaker’s personality is revealed through what he is saying. It is written in iambic pentameter and rhyming couplets, which gives the effect of strictness, with a patriarchal and restrictive view of love. There is also enjambement in this poem, which gives it a natural flow, this suggests that what he is saying comes naturally and it is the only way that he thinks.
The language in both poems is archaic and of the time but Christina Walsh uses an unusual word order, ‘no servant will I be’. This makes the statement more direct with a suggestion of harshness. It also emphasises her disgust at the traditional view of love.
In My Last Duchess the duke has an ostentatious voice, ‘worked busily a day’. This shows that he has high expectations of his employees and he will also have high expectations of his wife. The Duke also tries to make people fear him, ‘if they durst’. This would show that he feels that people should be scared of him, which would include his wife, so he would not be very close to his wife if she were scared of him.
The use of questions and rhetorical questions are used in both of the poems. The woman in A Woman To Her Lover uses questions in a reply to an assumed proposal of marriage, ‘Or if you think to wed’. These questions are the theme for the whole poem. This can show that he has asked her a question, but before she can answer she has to know things about him. This makes us feel that she is not rushing into marriage but is thinking carefully about if she wants to marry him.
The duke, on the other hand, answers his own question, ‘who’d stoop to blame’. He wants the envoy to agree with his anger and disgust at his disobedient wife. He expects ‘correct’ answers and is single minded about other views. Along with this he always expects people to agree with him. He would not expect his wife to have her own views, even her view of if she wanted to marry him.
Cristina Walsh uses the words ‘we’, ‘you’ and ‘I’ a lot in her poem, A Woman To Her Lover. This shows that the woman wants co-equal love as she involves the man in the poem. She says what ‘we’ want rather than ‘I’ want. It shows partnership in the relationship and togetherness.
My Last Duchess has a lot of the personal pronoun, ‘I’. This shows that he sees love as ownership and will see his wife as a possession rather than a partner. Love does not account for his choice of wife and will only have a trophy wife, someone who will look good to other people.
Cristina Walsh uses exclamation marks in her poem to emphasize her disgust in patriarchal views of love at the end of the stanza, ‘I refuse you!’ If the exclamation mark were not there we would not be able to see how much she despised the view of patriarchal love she is talking about.
Robert Browning uses the exclamation mark also to emphasize his disgust but it is when he remembers his wife having her own views, ‘Sir, ‘t was all one!’ We can see that he is very dominant and gets angry when she does what she wants. Once again the exclamation marks lets us see how angry he gets and how much he hates her having her own views.
A Woman To Her Lover uses quite a lot of parallel structure throughout the whole poem ‘If that be what you ask’. This use of parallel structure gives the effect that she is ranting and raving about her disgust of the ideas that she is talking about. The parallel structure also gives the effect that she is shouting very fast and gives fluidity to it.
My Last Duchess does not have any parallel structure as I think that the duke is trying to give a note of dignity to himself. Therefore the use of parallel structure will give the effect that he is shouting and getting excited. He tries to make himself sound better than he really is which makes him sound fake about love and that women don’t see him for what he is.
Christina Walsh uses repetition at the beginning of a sentence to try to get a lot of points through. There are three sentences one after the other all beginning with ‘And’. This tells us that the woman has a lot of conditions and points for her love to her lover.
Robert Browning uses repetition further apart in his poem; ‘that spot of joy’, this gives us the feeling that he is wrapped up in one thing only and can only think about that one thing. This repetition makes us think that he is obsesses with the ‘bad behaviour’ of his wife and cannot let simple things drop. This makes us think that he is strict with his wife and is not caring or forgiving.
These two poems both give very different views of love and marriage in the nineteenth century. Christina Walsh gives a modern view of a relationship, which is what most couples try for today. She lists the conditions for her love. These conditions however are not biased but things that will balance the relationship. Whereas in Robert Browning’s, My Last Duchess the Duke talks about a relationship where he has complete dominance over his wife. He also expects her to look up to him at all times and be thankful of everything he has and for her to not acknowledge any other men. Robert Browning’s patriarchal view of love, which he talks about in My Last Duchess, was seen as acceptable in the nineteenth century, especially by men.
Women yearned for the view of Christina Walsh, but nothing was done about it, we can now see that this view is now a reality in today’s world and any other view, i.e. Robert Browning’s view, would be unacceptable.