My Last Duchess And Dover Beach
Intro to Literature
Paper II .
My analysis of the setting in My Last Duchess and Dover Beach
At first glance the setting of a poem is the psychological and physiological environment in which the story takes place. In some instances, the setting is used to develop the characters. Robert Browning and Matthew Arnold use the setting to expose their character traits. “My Last Duchess” and “Dover Beach,” respectively, portray the weaknesses of the characters using elements from the setting. The text, page 629 and 630, tells us that the setting in “My Last Duchess” displays a valuable art form that exposes his greed and cruelty. “Dover Beach” demonstrates changeability and impermanence. The speaker’s solution is to establish personal fidelity as a fixture against change, dissolution, and brutality. Even though the text tells us the main use of setting in these two poems, I believe that many individual words used in the poems help describe the surroundings and the feelings that the speaker is trying to get across.
Robert Browning, the author of “My Last Duchess”, uses the setting to show the Dukes greed, cruelty, and jealousy. The development of the setting begins with the Duke showing an agent for the Count of Tyrol the curtained picture of his deceased Duchess. Count of Troy sent an agent in order to see if the Duke is worthy to marry his daughter. The fact that he keeps the picture behind closed curtains and deems it a privilege to view the Duke’s last Duchess illustrates his possessiveness and greed. “She thanked men--good! But thanked somehow--I know not how--as if she ranked my gift of nine-hundred-years-old name with anybody’s gift”. This line lends to the setting by showing his greed and how he places himself above other men according to his possessions and can not believe that she had the audacity to place “the Duke” in the same category as other men.
The physical setting of this poem is revealed by phrases such as “ That’s my Duchess painted on the wall” and words like “curtains” and “Duke”. “Duke” itself makes one think of a beautiful castle with priceless furniture and art work. The use of curtains to cover up the Duchess’ picture implies that the Duke is hiding something. The phrase mentioned above informs all that the Duke’s past wife is dead and that by putting her picture on the wall shows the love and devotion that he had for her and will have for his future wife. Where the words of the Duke imply that he shows dedication and warm heart for the Duchess the setting reveals the true character of the Duke.
“Dover Beach” is a poem written by Matthew Arnold and was first published in 1849. The physical setting is described as a moon lit night by a calm sea. In the distant background the speaker describes the cliffs of England as he looks across a tranquil bay. The author is setting up a romantic scene for two people in love. The waves give both a mental and physical setting for the poem.
“Listen! You hear the grating roar of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, at their return, up the high strand, begin, and cease, and then again begin, with tremulous cadence slow, and bring the eternal note of sadness in.”
Here, Arnold begins using the setting to describe the characters and their traits. The phrase “begin, and cease, and then again begin” is indicative of the characters changing state of mind; to like then dislike, to love then hate then love again. The use of ebb, flow, and misery makes the night and the relationship between the lovers appears dark and chaotic.
Through his depiction of the eroding shores of the earth, Arnold describes the constant changes in the relationship and the continuous changes of their feelings towards each other. Lines 20 and 21, “the Sea of Faith, was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore,” describe the erosion of not only the land but the relationship of the couple, too. The wind, waves, and sounds that you hear along the beach, obviously the physical aspects of the setting represent the emotional ties of the