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English 1022 Lecture on Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess"

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Western University
English 1022E
David Bentley

english lecture november 4, 2010 “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning ___________ On Board: Enjambment or Enjambement Caesura or Pause Trasyllabic or Heroic Couplets pairs of iambic pentameter) Trochee: falling rhythm (strong stress, weak stress) Rachel McAdams Iambic: rising rhythm pyrrhic: soft spondee: hard THAT’S my LAST DUCHess PAINTed on the WALL LOOKing as IF she WERE alIVE. i CALL that PIECE a SONder, NOW. toGETHer DOWN, SIR NAY, we’ll GO (all caps means that there’s a strong stress, lowercase weak stress) Robert Langbaum, The Poetry of Experience Dramatic Monologue Characteristics 1. Speaker who is not the poet 2. Listener who is other than the reader 3. An occasion or event 4. Interplay between speaker and reader 5. Tension between attraction and repulsion _______________ tetrameter, pentameter, hexameter (most common) 4,5,6 My Last Duchess - published in 1842, just after Queen Victoria became Queen - a time when women dressed in crinolines and concealed their body, very hierarchialized culture. men went to their clubs and smoked. - 1815 Congress of Vienna set in place new European Order. - Time of great formality and a time when things are going to burst out because people can’t be repressed for very long - What was the effect for poetry? Writers were asked not to write about anything disturbing to families, social orders, nothing that would upset young women. No sex, no violence, no insanity. - Push them down and away out of the realm of poetry english lecture november 4, 2010 - Ideal poem could be read aloud by father or mother to the entire family. So you can imagine how much had to be left out for that to happen (in victorian period) - poets had to find ways of dealing with these issues without getting into trouble with their readers and society. p.1633 - author uses the landscape to describe sex and he got away with it. he did this by having an opium induced dream. It came to me when i was in a drug induced state, so he can’t be responsible for the poem, he just wrote it down. - William Blake has a poem about the rose (I didn’t catch this much) but it suggests that something appaling is happening to the rose - p.1422 “London” -Talk about the bad things in London. -Chimney Sweepers got skin cancer like crazy - Blake thinks that the Church is causing the marriage bans, the forbidding of adultery, knocking down all the lust and so on from the Green Knight. -Soldiers are being killed to maintain the social system -Young women were going into marriage because of prostitution -Oxymoron: Marriage/Curse. Marriage has become death. - “Proverbs of Hell” -Repression and its effects weren’t understood. -Enough or too much. Moment of enlightenment might occur - Those are examples of what poets were doing to escape these rigid rules - In the 1840’s Browning and Tennyson both simultaneously came up with the Dramatic Monologue - The speaker is not the poet, and it is clear that he is not. The poet can retreat behind the mask and then imagine what it would be like to speak from the person whose voice he is adopting. what would it be like to be insane? a prostitute? a renaissance duke? - Characters are creations of the words. They aren’t real. Psychoanalyzing characters is a waste of time because there is no mind to the character. - Form is written in decasyllabic couplets. Each line has 5 iambic feet as a norm. Each line has the rhymes at the end of it. -Why? Brilliant choice for someone who has everything by design (told at line 6) it’s a very ordered form. But this is someone speak
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