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There are several parallels and variations between the poems "Sir Patrick Spence" and "My Last Duchess." These distinctions can be made based on a variety of factors such as style, stylistic devices, characters in the poems, mood, and the tone used in writing them (Byron). This paper compares the two poets' subjects, plots, linguistic irony, cosmic irony, narrative poetry, and dramatic monologue.
Both poems are about power and influence. The poems' characters demonstrate different ways in which they exert influence over the persons and environments surrounding them. When exploring the theme of dominance, the oppressive domestic dictator in "My Last Duchess" is a prime example. He uses his authority to get other people to do what he would want done like when he wanted to eliminate his wife. He states that the commands that he gave to his wife stopped her smiles altogether. It seems that he didn’t like the character of his wife when he says, “she liked whate’er/ She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.” There is a theme of loyalty in the poem “Sir Patrick Spence” depicted by Sir Patrick and his crew as shown in the line “Wi' the Scots lords at his feet”. The poem “My Last Duchess” reveals the theme of betrayal. The tyrant betrays the commitment he had with his wife when he had her eliminated.
Sir Patrick and the Duke are the main characters in these poems. They have many things in common and also have several differences. Both characters have leadership skills. They have juniors who take their instructions. Sir Patrick leads his crew while the tyrant has authority over his agent. While Sir Patrick is loyal to both the King and his crew, the Duke, on the other hand, is disloyal to his first wife. The Duke is self-centered, concerned with his nobility and proud. He is also tyrannical as he uses his revenge to show that he is the one in authority (Leech). Sir Patrick is more humble than the Duke. He has a better relationship with the people around him such as the King and his crew as compared to the Duke who is more authoritative when addressing the people around them.
Dramatic monologue has been used in “My last Duchess” where the persona and not the author arouses feelings of sympathy due to the complexity of his personal history. This style helps us identify the character of the Duke of Ferrara. The words help the readers associate him with aggressive and manipulative traits (Byron). Dramatic monologue is not as evident in the poem “Sir Patrick Spence” as it is in “My Last Duchess.” Verbal Irony is another device that is depicted more in “My last Duchess” than in “Sir Patrick Spence.” It is ironic that the Duke looks at the painting and calls it a wonder despite putting the real woman to death. Though he seems to be admiring his last duchess, the negative things that he says later show verbal irony. It is also ironical that the persona thinks he lacks skills of speech yet throughout the poem he is portrayed as a skilled speaker with an incredible choice of words (Leech).
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The two poems have made use of the stylistic devices of poetry. Though there are a few that are similar in both, there are some distinct styles that are identifiable in the poem “My Last Duchess” better than in the other poem such as verbal irony and dramatic monologue
Byron, Glennis. Dramatic monologue. Routledge, 2014.
Leech, Geoffrey N. A linguistic guide to English poetry. Routledge, 2014.
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