Robert Browning and William Faulkner – both from different epochs, Victorian age and modernism, both with a different style of writing, “Last Duchess” as a monologue and “A Rose for Emily” as a short poetic story, yet both are revealing the same themes in their poetry. For instance, “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning and “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner are one of the greatest examples in the world’s literature that reveal eternal themes – love and murder, or in other words, death in the name of love. These poems both have differences that depend on the age of the writing, but also they both have poetic similarities.
Emily from William Faulkner’s poem as well as the Duke from Robert Browning’s poem are obsessed with their lovers, or better to say, with emotional feeling of being in love. Both Emily and the Duke are from wealthy powerful families, though Emily is trying to run away from her family after her father’s death, when the Duke is trying to pay reader’s attention to his social status and power he has. Honestly saying, the main similarity one can find in both characters is that Emily and the Duke are murderers. It does not matter what their motivations or wishes are, they both commit a crime, and not just simple crime, but they kill their beloved ones.
In the monologue by Robert Browning, the Duke orders the murder of his wife, the Duchess. Moreover, like in every monologue, there is a narrator, the Duke in our case, and listeners, where one listener is a reader himself and the other one is implied within a poem. The Duke believes that he and only he has to be in the center of the social and family attention. He thinks that his wife, not him, has to fulfill his wishes and live only for his pleasures. He does not like when other men are in awe of his Duchess, when they are either bringing her some gifts or making her drawings. Through the use of monologue Robert Browning shows the readers the dominance of a man over his woman and heritage as well as underscores what this dominance can cause. The Duke is simply afraid to lose his property, not only his treasures, but also his wife as a part of this property. Therefore, to prevent himself from losing power over everything he has, the Duke orders to murder his wife. This action shows that the Duke cares only about his possessions, dominance, and power. Moreover, while telling the story and his deeds, he is proud of the murder and pleased with wife’s death. In “Last Duchess” Browning shows the theme of obsessive love, “deathly love.”
Emily from “A Rose for Emily”by William Faulkner shows another story, yet the same theme and the same problem as in “Last Duchess.” The story in the poem is told by a narrator, who yet does not participate in the story. In the center of the story is a young girl, who is brought up by a strict father and society of those days. Gradually, Emily becomes an outsider in the society. After her father’s death, Emily falls in love with Homer, a worker from the North, who, in his turn, claims to be the man, who is not ready for the marriage. Furthermore, the society is against this connection between a wealthy girl and some poor stranger from the North. Consequently, the community decides to appeal to Emily’s cousins. Although the girl is not that close to them and is on bad terms with her cousins, still that fact does not stop their arrival to Emily’s house. Homer cannot bear this situation, and even though earlier he made a decision to marry Emily, now he just leaves her. The conflict between cousins and Emily becomes tremendous and in some time they leave Emily’s house. At night Homer sneaks to Emily’s house, which is against the rules of the society. Emile is afraid of losing Homer because of all the scandals and even though the city council cannot confront her with accusations, they send men to check on Emily and her lover. However, all they find are the dead bodies on the bed. Emily poisoned her lover and the reason was the same as in “Last Duchess” – the fear of losing her only love. In the end, Emily’s social status and the prejudices of the community caused the murder.
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William Faulkner in his “A Rose for Emily” as well as Robert Browning in his “Last Duchess” reveal the problem of the society of all times – the influence of community on behavior, feelings, and life. The richer the man is, the more obsessive he becomes with his treasures, lovers and family. Both authors use different strategies and ways of showing this obsession, but the conclusion stays the same. Emily and the Duke are the loners that care about their treasures, no matter if it is a material property or beloved ones. Moreover, both characters do not regret their deeds, they are even proud of them. On the one hand, the behavior of Emily and Duke can be described as the behavior of sociopaths. On the other hand, they are just protecting the people they love and things they own. William Faulkner and Robert Browning are the men from different epochs, yet they are men who describe and explain human’s obsessions of all ages with the help of poetry.
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