Critique My Ozymandias and My Last Duchess Essay please :)

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jin5536
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The poems, ‘Ozymandias’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley and ‘My Last Duchess’ by Robert Browning, are both quite different in the ways in which power of humans in presented by the poets. However, they do have something in common – both poems are representations of one’s power. ‘Ozymandias’ represents that power in human life is insignificant to the power of time, even for egotistical kings such as Ozymandias, time is very powerful. ‘My Last Duchess’ represents power within a king and how it can be easily abused and can become out of control.

In both poems, they are similar in the way the ruler was described through the use of adjectives. In the poem ‘Ozymandias’ the ruler is described as ‘whose frown, and wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command’. In the poem ‘My Last Duchess’, this is seen through the quote ‘then all smiles stopped together’. Shelley uses a plethora of deeply negative language to portray Ozymandias through adjectives and verbs; also in ‘cold command’, there is an alliterative repetition of the harsh ‘c’ sound to reflect the harsh nature of Ozymandias. It also shows that Ozymandias was a cruel leader as he abused his power, leading on to the reader he was most likely a dictator in his ancient kingdom. Similarly, within ‘My Last Duchess’, the Duke just like Ozymandias is shown to have abused his power. This is mainly shown through the concept that the Duke did in fact kill the Duchess. We know this because it says, ‘then all smiles stopped together’; this is very blunt language, and could imply that the Duchess no longer smiles as the Duke has killed her. This shows to such a degree what an evil man the Duke is and this is further implied due to the fact that the Duchess didn’t do anything wrong. The Duke just did not like her looking at other people shown in the quote, ‘she looked on, and her looks went everywhere’. This shows how the Duke is very self-conscious and paranoid, because the quote shows that it is the friendly behaviour of the Duchess that really irritates him because it elevates others to his equal power and authority.



Ozymandias is written in Iambic Pentameter and contains enjambment. This Iambic Pentameter accompanied with the enjambment is the closest thing to narrating a story in poetry. By almost narrating a story, the poem gives us an insight in to the Egyptian king’s life due to the fact that there are no stanzas, its just an account of the pharaohs life. Enjambment is presented when Shelley writes, “nothing beside remains. Round the decay of that colossal wreck”, this shows that after Ozymandias’ rule and all of the achievements he made, time was even more powerful than the king and everything is gone and decaying. It is a form of irony because even a powerful king cannot control the damaging effects of time. Similarly, Browning’s poem, “My Last Duchess” is also written in iambic pentameter. This shows that the poem is also almost a story about the Duke’s life and problems with his Duchess. The poem is a dramatic monologue, the speaker is clearly distinct from the poet and this gives the reader the impression that a poet hasn’t written this, rather this is a direct account transcript of the duke himself speaking. This creates the sense of an audience being present, even though there isn’t one. The fact that the reader can feel that the duke is speaking directly to them makes what he says seem even more powerful, this clever use of a dramatic monologue by Browning evidently creates a sense of power.

On the other hand, the form of ‘My Last Duchess’ has its differences to ‘Ozymandias’. In the poem, ‘My last Duchess’, there is a very different form and structure to portray the specific theme of the poem. Firstly, throughout the entire poem, at the end of each line there are rhyming couplets. For example in the first two lines it says, ‘That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall, looking as if she were alive I call’. These rhyming couplets throughout give a sense of pace and rhythm throughout the poem. They help link to the theme as the rhyme is very controlled- which links into how controlling the Duke is generally and over his wife, and echoes the Duke’s masculine need to control. Also the structured form is elegant which suits the Duke’s status.

Overall, I believe both poets portray the power of humans in a very similar manner. Despite being written decades apart they both have similar views on the power of humans. In Ozymandias, power is presented through an arrogant, dictator and boatful of his own “words” but is also naïve to the supremacy of nature and passing time. My Last Duchess portrays power through a dominant and controlling man who seems to act selfish and doesn’t just control his kingdom but he controls who views her painting and he even manipulates the listener via his choice of words.
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Report 4 years ago
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An excellent essay, I'd personally give it a low Band 5- 21-22/30 marks.
I feel like you need to write more about the poet's feelings and attitudes, and write more on structure to get a higher band 5/ low band 6
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jin5536
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Thanks, i just did a quick edit do you mind reading that?
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