Victorian Dramatic Monologue


Poster¡G Jenny Chang at 18:55:28 3/13/98 from t200-216.dialup.seed.net.tw
Mentioned¡G
My Last Duchess 
This poem is about a duke showing a painting of his former wife to an envoy, who came on account of the duke's second marriage to a Count's daughter. In showing the painting, he carried on to express her conduct which displeases him to serve as a warning to the second wife what he expects from her. In reality he is addressing to the envoy, but he makes this clear only very late in the poem, thus we get the illusion that he is addressing directly to us as the silent listener. Thus the envoy serves to create such illusion and curiosity to the reader which form a surprise in the ending, when the implied listener is revealed, of his (the Duke's) intention and purpose of making the speech. 
The reason the duke is displeased with his duchess is because she is "too easily impressed" by a small compliment or favor from some unimportant people of lower rank. She thanks everything and appreciate everything, and such obsession of love is an insult to the duke because he thinks that she should feel honored in the high social rank he gives her. By wanting her to derive pleasure only from himself, he is, in a way, wanting to possess her, and he thinks such want of possession is also a gift to her. 
Sometimes you meet someone of a bad moral character, and if they offended you, you do not care to argue with them, because by arguing with such a person, you seem to bring yourself as low as them. I think this is somewhat like the duke's attitude to his duchess. To him, it is as if high rank goes together with his moral character, and he is too proud to condensend himself to communicate his dissatisfaction with someone who lower herself to that below her actual status. And even if she did not lower herself, he didn't really respect her as a duchess and does not treat her like one, since he display his authority and dominance over her by "commanding" her to death. Then she "stands" in the portrait, "as if alive", as if he had triumph in gaining control and possession of her, since she can only stand in his presence (unless he choose to draw the curtain to someone), and can smile to no one else but he. 
The ending mentioning of dowry not only passively reinforce the duke's lack of feelings (eg. calling his wife's portrait "a piece of wonder" as if the duchess is a mere object), but it also shows how materialistic and mercenary he is. And in mentioning the statue of Neptune taming a sea horse, first of all, it shows his lack of sentiments for his first wife, as he treats her painting as another of his collections and property, it also implies that he wants his second wife to be as "tamed" and behave herself. 

Porphyria's Lover 
Although the speaker tells the story in a calm and steady tone, we can actually sense that he had gone insane when he said "that moment" when he strangled her, "she was mine...perfectly pure and good." This is a distorted vision of the speaker that the only way to capture Porphyria's love forever is to take her life. Such insight is irrational and radical to the extreme, as although he might always remember the moment she is most in love with him if such remembrance stand the test of timne, such love will never grow and blossom. And yet he bears the illogical notion that destruction is perfection. 
We can also see his insanity when he think her rosy little murdered head is "smiling... so glad, it has its utmost will", and only an insane person would think that Porphyria would be pleased to gain the love of her lover at the price of her own life. 
It is a psychopathic behaviour that, after he strangled her, he still kisses her and sit with the corpse without stirring thinking that she still blushes and smile for him. It kind of remind me of "A Rose for Emily" where Emily sleeps with the corpse of the person she killed out of love. 
In the end it is quite controversial whether it is insanity when he thinks that "God has not said a word", or whether religion also supports male dominance and suppression of female passion. 

If Porphyria were to tell the story, she might said it was because she really loves him and is keen to see him that she came in such a bad weather, so late at night. Yet in making this rough trip, all soaked wet, her lover made no response. Thinking that he is more shy and restrained in showing his feeling, she, true to her own sentiments and heedless of social conventions, decide to take the initiative and try to seduce him to response through actions and words. Yet he strangles her. And in astonishment, she die in confusion and physical suffocation, never knowing why he want to kill her. 

Ulysses 
In the beginning of the poem, Ulysses' attitude toward his present life is reflected in the choice of words such as "idle" king, "still" hearth, "barren" crags which shows his boredom, discontentment and lack of fulfillment in life. The repetition of "and" in "hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me" suggest the monotony of such existence, and that such existence is of "little profits". We see, in contrast, that his past experience is the fulness of life, in the crowding of words without the earlier repetition of "and", when he describe what he had seen and known (cities, manners, climates etc.) And such arrangement of the words and the fact that he had a "hungry" heart is the exact opposite of his Ithacan people's lack of hunger in that they only "sleep and feed". 
For him, lif is "gleamed" by never ending experience and "shine" in the challenges ("the bringer of new things") it has to offer, and to "pause" from such is considered "dull". The reason why he compare himself to a "gray spirit" is because he is old, and yet "spirit" conveys his enthusiasm. Likewise "a sinking star" conveys that his life is at its setting point and yet he still wants to make the last effort towards the end of his life. 
In paying attention to the rhythm and sounds, the monosyllables of "that hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not..." and the iambic pantameter of "to pause, to make an end, to rust..." suggest the dullness and monotony of life which I have mentioned earlier. Yet the iambic pantameter of "to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" intend for us to draw a parelle comparison in its similarity in rhythm and sentence structure (to the two above), yet with totally contrasting meaning. 
In addition, the shifting between the explosives and short vowel with the mellifluous consonants and long vowels in the second stanza about Telemachus, shows on the one hand his adoration and appreciatin of his son, and also his differentiation from him and his contempt for his "rugged people" on the other, with reference to his words "He works his work, I mine". Telemachus is seen by him as a serious, responsible, moralistic administrator, while he himself is viewed as a free thinking, quest searching and "noble" person who is above dealing with common duty.