Death In Robert Browning's 'My Last Duchess'

2342 Words10 Pages
How does the poet convey the theme of Death?

In ‘My Last Duchess’, Browning portrays the theme of death from the high-status viewpoint of the duke, as if it was a deserved punishment for the duchess. As seen in the structure of the poem, the duke’s focus rapidly changes from reflecting on her death at the beginning, to quickly finding a new mistress to appease him, often within the same line. This conveys the idea that although the duke is accusing his wife of being ‘too easily impressed’, it is ironic as his focus has changed as quickly as her loyalty for the duke supposedly dissipated. The use of the regular rhyme scheme represents the duke’s need for order and control over a marriage, shown through the regular structure indicating the
…show more content…
‘Unwrap me hand and foot, the big strip tease’ conveys the idea that Plath is being de-clothed, which, contextually, could be a metaphor for being stripped of any passion due to the intensity of her depression, an illness which Plath experienced all her life and ultimately led to her death. This image could be Plath emulating the feeling close to death, having nothing and being exposed. This idea of being exposed could then be linked back to the concept of a performance, where her actions are completely open, unprotected, free to be scrutinised by the public and her peers. The title ‘Lazy Lazarus’, is a biblical reference to a figure whom Jesus raised from the dead, and at the end of the poem, shown in the line ‘Out of the ash’, Plath compares herself to a Phoenix, a mythological bird typically linked with the concept of rebirth. This could suggest that her previous suicide attempts were always attempted with the knowledge that she would return, and be reborn. Despite the sombre theme of the poem, there is some optimism conveyed through this idea of being reincarnated, however, overall, this is ironic as eventually the illness did take over her and she did not
Open Document