“Sonnet 130” is a poem by William Shakespeare. The persona is a man who is praising the beauty of her mistress. He does this by comparing her to other know beautiful things, but concludes none is more beautiful than his woman is. For example, he says that her breath has better fragrance than perfume. The cheeks of her mistress are rosier than rose flowers. Her lips have red color but less like the ones from coral. Finally, he says that he loves her, so to speak. The poem clearly shows that the man adores his mistress and appreciates her (Callaghan, 2007).
The poem about on “My Last Duchess” talks about a Duke called Alfonso. He marries a woman from a well up family, but unfortunately, she dies. Her death is caused by her husband, who murders her. He does this because she is a social person who laughs with everyone (Browning, 1992). This shows that she is an openhearted woman. The Duke does not like this because he wants to dictate everyone’s way of life, especially that of his wife. He finds another suitor who comes to visit and decides to show her around the house.
He spots a portrait of his former wife and he remembers her memories. He then remembers that he is remarrying and that he was showing his suitor around. They walk away from that portrait and proceed to view other pieces of artwork. By doing this, it symbolizes that he is ready to move on with his life and forget the past. It also shows his do not care attitude because he does not mind that he killed an innocent life. The most unfortunate and unfair part of this poem is that it ends before the Duke is charged with murderer .This may mean justice was never served because he held a senior position.
The personas in the two poems are discussing about their lovers. The difference is that Shakespeare’s persona is praising his mistress, but Browning’s persona is lamenting. His former wife never appreciated him. A common aspect in the two poems is that presently they are both in love with their suitors. The persona in the poem of “My last Duchess,” seems to have an experience with a social woman and an acceptable one. He has experienced both types of lovers. The admirable thing about him is that he resolves to move on and marry again. On the other hand, the person in “Sonnet 130,” seems to have an experience with only one lady whom he adores. It could be that he is praising her so much because of his naivety. He does not know that lovers could frustrate him, just like the Duke.
The techniques used in these two poems are diction, assonance, rhymes, allusion and imagery. Diction is how well words are chosen in a poem. It also includes how well they are pronounced. The two poems have good diction. The choice of words clearly brings out the message intended by the poet. For example, in the poem of “Sonnet 130”, the poet has enabled the reader to understand what he intends to say, through his choice of words (William, 2001). This man’s feelings are evident because the right words were used to express them. The Duke manages to convey his message because the right words were used. Both poems have good diction.
Rhyme is a common technique in poetry. It is placing names with similar ending letters, at the end of lines or verses. There are two types of rhymes: regular and irregular rhymes in poetry. Regular rhymes are those that follow a sequence and do not change abruptly. Both poems have regular rhyming. In the poem ‘Sonnet 130’, a regular sequence has been used. Rhyming words have been put at the end of each line. The rhyming words follow each other. The poem “My Last Duchess” has also placed rhyming words on the lines that follow each other (Browning, 2007). The two poems have capitalized on rhyming words in the regular format. Poems with rhyming words form an interesting tune when being reciting. The audience is entertained as well as the reader.
Allusion is the indirect reference to a person. This could be done when one wants to relay some strong message but does not want people to think too much of it. The best way to do so is using euphemism in poetry called allusion. Both poems have used this technique to maintain decency of words in the poem. Some messages are also very strong when put openly. For instance, the Duke cannot openly say that he murdered his wife. This is because the Duke does not quote the wife directly. He uses a portrait to refer to her. He also confesses that he murdered his wife but does not plead guilty.
When the Duke looks at the portrait and gets her late wife’s memories, he walks away to other portraits. This means that he has left his past and moved on. Walking away to other portraits also suggests that he is looking forward to a new better life. Allusion also exists in the poem “Sonnet 130.” The persona uses different phenomena to describe his love for his mistress. He uses roses, sun, snow, perfume and music, which he compares to her mistress’ beauty.
Imagery is writing in a way that a story will make the reader get a mental picture of what the poet intends to say. Both poets have used imagery and this is how the reader understands better even the deeper meaning. For example, when a reader recites the poem of “My Last Duchess,” he or she will have mental pictures of how sad the Duke is as he looks at the portrait. According to the Duke, he is showing his suitor around the house. The reader can also picture how big the house is because it has an art gallery in it. The reader will also know that the Duke is an evil person because he murdered his wife.
The poem “Sonnet 130” is also full of imagery technique. Due to the use of items to compare, the reader can make mental pictures of how much this man loves his mistress. When he says that her cheeks are “rosier than rose flowers”, a reader will understand the beauty. He also says that her mistress’ eyes are “nothing but the sun”. The sun is known to be bright .This suggests that the woman’s eyes are brighter than the sun or the woman’s eyes are very bright and beautiful. Her breath is better than perfume. All this comparisons are used as emphasis to show how he loves and appreciates his mistress. Both poems have used imagery to emphasize and create better understanding of their messages.
Both poems have used assonance. This is using words that have similar sounds of the vowels, which are nearer to each other. They are used with other consonants to make words and then placed nearer to each other to form this pattern. Assonance gives the poem rhythm so that the poem might sound lively. This way it is captivating and interesting for the readers to recite.
The form used to write the “Sonnet 130,” is called the Shakespearean sonnet. He has used this form in all his sonnets. A sonnet is a poem with fourteen lines. Its original format is written in pentameter. This means that the lines have ten syllables and accents have been inserted into the entire second syllable. This form is divided into four parts. From the first to the third part, there are four lines long, called quatrains. The rhythm used is CDCD and part four is called the couplet. It is given a rhythm of EE. The Shakespearean sonnet is mostly used to form a pattern of metaphors or ideas, where one in each quatrain is used. The couplet can contain the summary or discussion of the metaphors used before.
“My Last Duchess” has rhyming pentameter lines. The lines have been put enjambments and not end stops like expected. This means that sentences and other grammar components do not have to conclude at the end. It is also observed that the rhyming words do not mean end of a line and idea. Instead, they make a driving force for the Duke’s confessions. The Duke is creative because he imitates others’ voices, makes different situations, and takes advantage of his power to say terrible things. The poem can also be used to be a good example of a dramatic monologue. This is because the speaker and the poet are very different individuals. There is an audience but it does not exist in the poem. The confessions of the Duke are the significant aim of the poem.
These two poems have been written in the same form. They contain rhyming words at he end of the lines and they have been written using pentameter. Using this form has helped the poem to look orderly and give meaning. The arrangement of lines and syllables is what gives the poem the rhythm he intends it to have. If wrong formats and wrong choice of words are used, the poem will lose its meaning. It will not be interesting to the reader hence not communicate exactly the intended message.
Other techniques are the use of themes symbols and motifs. The themes are a very important part of any written work, poems included. They carry the message for the audience or the readers of the poems. These poems have common themes. One of the discussed themes is love. Both poems have a basis of love. The Duke loved and married a woman whom he ended up murdering. The man in the “Sonnet 130” poem praises her mistress because of her beauty then confesses undying love for her. The Duke’s wife is murdered because of her love for other men. The Duke later remarries so this shows that the Duke is in love with his new suitor.
Another theme is art and morality. Both poems have used art and morality to relay their message. “The Sonnet 130,” uses artistic nature to describe the beauty of his lover and thus morality is maintained. There is no use of vulgar or indecent language. The Duke’s poem has also incorporated art. It is used to enhance imagery allusion. Since the Duke murdered his wife, relevant words have been used to make his confession about crime. No direct words have been used. However, it is also considered to have immorality because the Duke is a murderer and no action is taken against him.
The other techniques are symbols. Symbols are used to assist in comprehending an idea or concept. Similar symbols appear in both poems. For example, taste. “My Last Duchess,” ends the poem by mentioning about a statue from Neptune taming a sea monster. The Duke’s choice on this sculpture clearly blends with his character; the kind of person who would kill his wife but later on admire her portrait. Like Neptune, the Duke wants to have control of everything in life, especially his wife. Characters show their tastes by the way they describe people. For example, the way the Duke described his as a woman who loved to laugh with everyone else. He does not like social people and that is why he murdered his wife.
The man in the “Sonnet 130” poem shows his taste by describing the woman she loves. This tells us that the lovers of her taste should be like the one she has. One can also tell his taste by observing the things he uses to compare the beauty of his lover. For example rose flowers, music, perfume and others. It can be concluded that he admires these items and that is why he says his lover is more beautiful than they are (Callaghan, 2007).
Motifs are part of techniques as well. They are used to enhance better understanding in the themes. Among the many motifs used, beauty is one of the common ones. The poem on Sonnet is based on beauty. The man is really fascinated by her lover’s beauty and describes it in details as he appreciates it. The Duke also appreciates beauty. He has an art gallery where he takes his suitor to tour. They leave his former wife’s portrait to go and view others that are more beautiful (Godwin, 2010).
The two poets have successfully written these poems and reached out to the reader and target audience. They are interesting because of the keenness taken to write them. The content, techniques, forms, themes motifs and symbols, have made sure that the message is well conveyed.
Callaghan, Dympna. Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers. 2007. Print.
Godwin, Daisy. My Last Duchess. Washington, D.C. Headline Book Publishers.2010. Print.
Browning, Robert. My Last Duchess. San Franscisco, C.A. Arion Press. 1992. Print.
Shakespeare, William. The Sonnets. Robinson, OK: George Banta Publishing Company. 2001. Print.