Essay on Compare the Central Characters in ‘Medusa’ and ‘My Last Duchess’

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Pages: 9

Compare the central characters in ‘Medusa’ and ‘My Last Duchess’

Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Medusa’ and Robert Browning’s ‘My Last Duchess’ are two entirely different poems in many respects. Written in entirely different eras, some would say that they are as opposite as poetry could be. However, their central characters have some remarkable similarities that strike a chord with the reader and represent a common theme. In each of the poems, both Medusa and the Duke of Ferrara represent the fickleness of power and how it fluctuates in daily life. Duffy’s manipulation of a paradox within ‘Medusa’ displays the extent to which power plays a part in the Greek myth of Medusa. The extended metaphor of Medusa with “filthy snakes” that “hissed and
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Jealousy is a recurrent theme throughout each of the poems, with both central characters developing very destructive behaviours to express this. The use of asyndetic listing in the opening line of ‘Medusa’ shows her demeanour from the outset. “A suspicion, a doubt, a jealousy” is a list of three, which emphasises Medusa’s insecurity and doubt, as well as the lack of trust she places in her “Greek God”. This casts her as very unsure in herself and desperate to keep her partner by her side. Her “bride’s breath” shows commitment to this man through the reference to marriage and a lifelong promise, but the fact that it has “soured” suggests that there is an issue with the relationship. She “knows” with conviction that he will “betray me, stray”; this uses internal line rhyme to suggest paranoia and display Medusa as over-emotional and unstable. The very notion of infidelity is enough to turn Medusa into the monster that the reader knows from the famous myth, which generates some sympathy whilst also revoking it, as she is inevitably the cause of her own downfall. With a little trust, she would have perhaps been able to avoid her fate. The Duke in Browning’s poem is also a very possessive character, as the change in pace suggests. To begin with, the poem made to be very fluid by the use of enjambment, as well as iambic pentameter. This fluidity stems from the fact that the Duke is