How Relationships Are Presented Essay

1093 words - 5 pages

“My Last Duchess” is a dramatic monologue by Robert Browning like “The Laboratory”. The speaker in “My Last Duchess” is the Duke of a city state in Italy called Ferrara. Similarly “Romeo and Juliet” is also set in an Italian city (Verona). Violent societies are explored in both texts and are set during the 16th centaury around the renaissance period. The Duke’s relationship with his last duchess was typical of the time as he is shown to be in a position of great powering in a patriarchal society. In contrast, Romeo and Juliet were rebelling against the norm of the time that consisted of arranged marriages. The laboratory shows a woman refusing to be confined by her gender and taking charge over her relationship.

At the beginning of Romeo and Juliet the scene is set by the servants arguing this foreshadows the deaths at the end as well as providing a backdrop to the entire play. The Capulets were hosting a masked ball for Juliet to celebrate her arranged marriage; this symbolises how important appearance was in this society. Romeo uses a soliloquy to show Juliet’s exceptional charm. He describes her ‘Like a rich jewel in an Ethiopes ear; beauty too rich for earth too dear’. The rhyming couplet emphasises the way Juliet stands out in comparison to others. Repetition of ‘rich’ shows his inability to accept her comeliness and shows he might be in awe of her. At the same time, the simile expands on the belief of the time that fair skin was ideal, whilst the metaphor is a tribute to her beauty. Light imagery is also used her to liken her to Jesus, a saviour. He finalises his soliloquy by clamming Rosaline meant nothing to him though she was the reason he attended the party. “For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” Shakespeare uses this concluding line to show Romeo’s impetuosity.

The dukes high position in society implies that he is well educated and has good manners. Using ‘My’ in the title Robert Browning suggests the poem is reviving his fond memories of his last duchess; however it soon becomes apparent that instead he is possessive and paranoid. In contrast, to “Romeo and Juliet” the opening of “My Last Duchess” immediately shows a retrospective view on the duke’s previous relationship whereas in “Romeo and Juliet” the relationship is set in the present tense and is only beginning. “I call/ That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf's hands/ Worked busily a day, and there she stands.” The duke highlights his wealth by boasting about an assumed famous painter and does not allow the reader to forget this by repeating the name twice. The use of “she” and “its” suggests that the painting and duchess are of the same value to the duke, this is revealed when the duchess does not even warrant a name. The duke continues his controlling behaviour by using rhyming couplets; enjambment is needed to follow the poem indicating his need for authority and status like the Capulets. Aware of his power the duke is able to intimidate others. When the duke says...

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