With reference to three or more pre 1900 love poems consider the relationship of power to love
The relationship between Love and Possession or power is a thin line and these poems it explores both sides of these poems and how they compare to each other and which is the stronger influence on the overall relationship of the two.
A male influence often carries out power in romantic relationships during the Victorian era. And this is often the cause of possessiveness and violence that is seen in many Victorian poems to show how a man’s ‘love’ for a woman can be destructive and can lead to an imbalance of power in a romantic relationship.
However woman also carry the power of being the power of being doting and grateful to their husbands and making sure that their love is felt the most in the house.
‘Porphyria’s lover’ is a poem about the relationship between a woman who is married and is having an affair with another. During one of her visits to her lover she is subsequently murdered. The poem is written as if the male is thinking out loud and explores his possessiveness and exposes some of the reasons why he had murdered her and whether he feels any remorse or feelings.
Another poem that has similar feelings on the masculine view of the woman is ‘My last duchess’. This explores the relationship between a duke and his late wife and is talking to a servant about her because he is looking at her picture that is held in prominence in hi s home. This poem is written as if the duke is talking about someone who he has complete confidence with as he uses words, which can only concluded to a very narrow range of ideas. This also explores the ideas of jealousy and again possessiveness and the need to have complete control or power over their spouses.
However the poem ‘ Remember’ has a certain amount of power but is used in a different way. The poem is about a woman who is dying. She is asking her lover to remember her after she has passed. This is an intimate poem that uses the strength and power of their love together to be strengthening force that keeps them together after she or both of them have died. She the goes like this until half way through the poem she changes her plea of her lover to remember her but if they should forget it didn’t matter. She explains this with the final line ‘ better by far you should forget and smile than that you should remember and be sad’
The language used in ‘Porphyria’s lover’ in the beginning is dark and cold for instance ‘sullen wind was soon awake’. This suggests that the room that the man is inside is cold dark and miserable much like him without his lover. The writer is also personifying the weather because wind cannot be bad tempered or miserable because it has no human emotions.
The language used to describe Porphyria is almost goddess like, she ‘glides’ and as soon as enters the poem the language changes to a slightly warmer and favourable tone as she sets the fire. ‘… And made the cheerless grate blaze up, and al the cottage warm’ this is a stark contrast to the earlier lines in the poem of ‘sullen winds’ and vexed lakes.
The man in the poem also notes down, very descriptively all the movements she does almost recording them in his mind ‘… withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl. And laid her soiled gloves by…’ this suggests that he is being aroused by this actual sense of watching her move around the room, taking charge of cold and sullen room and life and making it warm and inviting like her presence is. It could also be that he is recording all this information because he idolises her in such a way that he just wants to watch her move or glide gracefully across the room in a goddess-like way.
These descriptions so far show that she is in fact taking charge of the operation of this house. This shows that he somehow feels undermined by her dominance. An example of his lack of male dominance or any kind of control is the way she instructs him to lie his head on her chest.’ And stooping made my cheek lie there’ this shows that he has almost no control over his lover and she is in fact taking over the male role in this relationship. Because of his lack of dominance in the relationship it is assumed that his calculated murder of his lover is his one act of control and power in the relationship that they had had. ‘ In one long yellow string I wound three times around her little throat and strangled her’ this is his ultimate form of dominance and control in the relationship in his mind. The deeply disturbing images are punctuated with diminutive words such as “little throat” and ‘smiling rosy little head’ make this all the more disturbing and graphic. The way that this last sections written suggests that the man who has committed this murder was not particularly mentally sound or had a particular issue with the roles of men and women in a romantic relationship.
The man also believes that he has done the right thing to Porphyria. Because he explains himself on many occasions as if it was a normal thing to do ‘ I found a thing to do’ this is before he murders her, ‘ I am quite sure she felt no pain’ this is just after he has murdered her and ‘ and yet God has not said a word’. This suggests that if he had done something morally wrong God would have intervened and somehow stopped it or punished him for his actions
The relationships between knowing what is right and wrong also seem to be blurred in ‘my last duchess’ to the duke murder is also the ultimate form of control and possession a relationship.
The language used to describe his late wife is often controlling and severe. For instance he is still controlling after her death because no one is allowed to look at her apart from when he draws the curtains to allow himself to see the painting. This is how by the line ‘ (since none puts by the curtain drawn for you but I)’.
The writer also makes the Duke talk of his wife resentfully and always regards her as property; this is a signature of a possessive character or person. And example of him regarding her as property and resentfully is this ‘ my gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name with anybody’s gift’ the way that this is written is also significant. The section about the age of his name is hyphenated to suggest that these facts were driven in, perhaps with some resentful emotion and a strong sense of pride at his name that he had given to her. He is resentful of the fact that she thinks of his name not with the same sense of pride that he does but with the same feeling as a gift someone else had given her.
Another way we find that the duke nature is particularly frightening is because he never actually talks of his wife’s death. It is spoken about in a brief and nonchalant manner as if it wasn’t or she wasn’t important ‘ I gave the commands; then all smiles topped together.’ This shows that he is so possessive and controlling he dismisses or murders his wife as if it were a disobedient pet or animal.
He also uses metaphors for ways of controlling his late wife with great gods controlling his subordinates or slaves. An example of this could be ‘ notice Neptune thought taming a sea horse…’ he is so possessive his ‘work ‘ taming the sea horse has been made into a bronze statue for him to look at again and again.
This is however gravely different from the last two poems. ‘Remember’ uses soft language and like ‘Porphyria’s lover’ speaks of contact between the two characters spoken of in the poem. An example of this ‘when you can no longer hold be the hand’ this poem focuses quite heavily on the sensation of touching and intimate and loving gestures such as holding hands and praying.
This poem is also about death within a loving relationship; but unlike the others the death is natural is forcing apart a healthy relationship. This is shown in quote ‘nor I half to go yet turning to stay’ shows that she wants to leave (or die) but there her relationship is so strong she wants to stay and be happy.
The possession in the relationship seems to be with the woman who is dying in this poem. She is asking her lover to remember her after she has died and to think of her every waking moment. She then changes or relinquishes her possession of the relationship because she thinks it would make her lover upset. Her possession is shown in the repetition of ‘remember me’ and her relinquishing of her possession is ‘ yet if you should forget me for a while…’ this make the entire poems overall achievement one of an entirely selfless act. She wishes to be remembered but if it causes pain and suffering then it would be better to forget her leaving her memory behind.
The examples of the relationships of the three poems in relation to possession or power to love show that in two poems the idea of love is overshadowed by a darker sense of possessiveness and power which make the idea of love being a morose and fatalistic. But the idea of love in ‘Remember’ is selfless and hopelessly romantic this kind of love is also found in another poem ‘ a woman to her lover’ this is almost anti power relinquishing them selves and being submissive in their love for the partner.
We find that women in fact write the two poems that show anti power. Who are writing passionately about their spouses. The darker and possessive poems are fin fact written by the same man. This could possibly show what men thought of women who had tried to take a more active role in their relationships.
This shows that the idea of love for women is to relinquish and withdraw from power and to be submissive to their partners. The idea for men is to regain a keep control of their wives and lovers and to keep them ‘in check’ if they were to try and take over too much control in the relationship.
Separately they are completely contradictory to each other but when put together, the conclusions seem to fit perfectly into what was considered of a man and woman in that era. It shows poems such as ‘Porphyria’s lover’ and ‘My last Duchess’ who this was enforce by putting extreme cases to scare women into behaving properly.