GCSE English Literature Poetry essay?
August 5th, 2013
Question: Compare how the writers present females in two poems from the Pre-1914 Poetry Bank. The poems "My Last Duchess" (MLD) and "Sonnet 130" both analyse the ways females are seen from the male perspective. Shakespeare criticises the conventional attitude towards women in his "Sonnet 130"; Browning, however, explores the attitude of the Duke towards his Duchess.In "MLD", it is abundantly clear how the poetic voice sees women: as "object[s]". The Duke only appreciates his wife in the form of a fresco; even in this form, however, he is critical of her. Although the Duke had right to be jealous of the fact his Duchess "looks went everywhere", his desperation for power over his wife should not have led to "all smiles" stopping altogether. The Duke’s critical, objectifying attitude towards his Duchess is, possibly, supposed to be extended to the general attitude towards women. The writer of "MLD" vividly presents women as inhumane entities, rather than living beings – the writer’s comments may either be criticising the general attitude towards women, or sympathising towards this attitude. Assuming the writers attitude were to criticise societies attitude towards women, "Sonnet 130" can be paralleled to "MLD". In this poem, Shakespeare highlights the absurdity of treating women as "goddesses". In a similar way to "MLD", Shakespeare’s use of satire emphasises how, conventionally, women were placed upon a pedestal and objectified unrealistically. It is clear that Shakespeare is disdainful towards the conventional attitude towards women; this is clear as his poem adopts the use of ‘conventional love language’ – "love", "lips", "breasts" – but then contrasts them, denoting his mistresses appearance as being repulsive.The ending to "Sonnet 130" furthers Shakespeare’s critical attitude: he states, indirectly, that women don’t have to be beautiful to be adored rather they should have special, lovable characteristics. In "Sonnet 130", therefore, the poetic voice presents how conventionally – akin to "MLD" – women were objectified. However, unlike "MLD", Shakespeare offers an alternate viewpoint towards women – their true, innate personality. The structure of each poem is also significant. "MLD" is written as a dramatic monologue. This along with the enjambment accentuates the poetic voices attitude towards women. He feels that men should have total control over their wife, and hence, the persona does not pause. The ending of the poem also allows the reader to appreciate the poetic voices attitude towards women. At the start, when the persona is discussing his wife he objectifies her; when talking about his future Duchess he does the same thing. The lack of change in the persona’s attitude highlights his possessive, objective attitude towards women.Shakespeare’s "Sonnet 130", uses structure to further emphasise the poems main ideas. The poem is presented as a sonnet; conventionally, these were written to or about women, overly-praising their beauty. By adopting this structure, but relying on images that veto such conventions, Shakespeare successfully denotes his viewpoint that actually, objectifying women is both wrong and false.Both "Sonnet 130" and "MLD" use language and structure to talk about attitudes towards women, hence presenting how females were viewed. However, the persona of "MLD" is of the impression that such attitudes are correct, whereas Shakespeare believes the opposite: he is of the impression that our objectification of women is misjudged and unrealistic. --------WHat do you think?A* OR A OR B ....
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