Critique my GCSE English Lit poetry essay :)Watch this thread
Compare how identity is presented in ‘My Last Duchess’ and 'Ozymandias'
Within both ‘My Last Duchess’ and ‘Ozymandias’, ideas about identity and how it changes throughout time are explored. ‘My Last Duchess’ presents a politically powerful Duke, and how the power first observed is, perhaps, not as secure as first thought and very much reliant on others. ‘Ozymandias’ focuses on an arrogant and tyrannical ruler, whose seemingly infinite power was so easily destroyed by nature and is, ultimately, insignificant.
Although the poem is set in Italy, ‘My Last Duchess’ criticises the excessive power held by men within the patriarchy in Britain, where attitudes towards women were beginning to change. In the poem, the Duke frequently uses possessive pronouns to refer to his wife. He opens with the line ‘That’s my last Duchess’, immediately suggesting that he does not think of her as his wife; rather one of his many possessions. As the poem progresses, he repeatedly criticises her for interacting with other men - stating “Oh sir, she smiled”, and that “her looks went everywhere”. Through this, we see an obsessively controlling side to the Duke, and his demand for constant attention. The Duke also mentions “The curtain I have drawn for you”, behind which is the painting of his wife. When his wife was alive, he made it clear that he wanted unlimited control over her, but was denied this. The fact that there is now a curtain shielding her painting so he can control where “her looks went” could potentially be seen as a metaphor for the control he used to lack, but now has.
Shelley also uses language to highlight the insignificance of Ozymandias’ power, when put amongst the rest of history. Ultimately, nature has ruined his statue, showing the insignificance of human power and that nature and time have power over everything. On the pedestal of the statue are the words “look on my works and despair”. This demonstrates Ozymandias’ arrogance and self-obsession, however due to the statue now being ruined, his words are slightly ironic - he is telling other rulers to “despair” at the grandeur of his “works” when they should actually despair at their power being temporary and insignificant like his. The poem, overall, focuses on the power of Ozymandias, which could be seen as a metaphor for all human power - demonstrating Shelley’s controversial views on monarchies and absolute power.
‘My Last Duchess’ is written in iambic pentameter, with a tightly controlled rhyme scheme, which demonstrates the tight control and power the Duke often asserts over others. However, Browning also makes use of enjambment throughout the poem, giving an overwhelming sense of the Duke's anger. This could reflect an inability to control himself and his furious outbursts - suggesting that he is perhaps not as powerful as first thought, and made weaker by his dependence on having complete power. Similarly, in ‘Ozymandias’ iambic pentameter is sometimes used. It is, however, frequently disrupted, which could reflect how human power is easily destroyed and, ultimately, insignificant.
Overall, both poems have the same themes of control and power - which are, ultimately, lost. They both held excessive political or domestic power, eventually leading to their downfall. Through the poems, both the patriarchy and monarchies are subtly criticised, and the impacts of complete reliance on power are realised.
hey! would love to take a look at this, and ill pm you with marking. im a y13 student btw, and I got two grade 9's for both english subjects : ) funnily enough for my gcse exam i was given ozymandias and i compared it to the prelude, though my last duchess is also great.