Use of the Dramatic Monologue in Porphyria's Lover and My Last Duchess

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In 'Porphyria's Lover' and 'My Last Duchess', Browning uses several features of dramatic monologue in order to engage and sustain the interest of the audience. This style of monologue is spoken by a character, which is not the poet, and is usually projected at a critical moment, as in the case of 'My Last Duchess' and 'Porphyria's Lover'. The speakers unintentionally reveal their insanity, in both poems, through their separate accounts. By making a comparison of the two poems, it becomes clear that Browning has used similar disturbing themes to illustrate what an individual is capable of doing.

Browning's work is known to be an example of dramatic monologue, with this being the way in which he
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'Porphyria's Lover' opens with an atmospheric picture of the weather, perhaps suggesting pathetic fallacy, reflecting the mood of the narrator. The first impression the audience is given of the lover is of his "heart fit to break", suggesting his unpleasant mood, supported by "the rain" and "sullen wind" outside. This opening seems less subtle than that of 'My Last Duchess', as Browning uses atmospheric imagery to open the poem instead of direct conversation. However the description of weather, opening 'Porphyria's Lover', engages the interest of the audience, as they are instantly able to open their minds to this scene. Interest is also sustained by the introduction of a narrator and his portrayal of "Porphyria gliding in"; a contrast to his "heart fit to break", showing the comparison of the lover's moodiness and Porphyria's gentleness. His mood seems perhaps to alter with her entrance, as Porphyria is portrayed to "shut the cold out and the storm". This could metaphorically suggest that this woman was able to end his unpleasant mood; again leading the reader to marvel at the power that one person (Porphyria) can demonstrate in such a short space of time. After Porphyria's entrance, both the speaker and the reader are able to anticipate her every move, as she,

"Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl, / And laid her soiled gloves by, untied / Her hair and let the damp hair

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