World Literature II
April 3, 2011
Illusions of distrust
Romanticism evolved from the end of the French Revolution, bringing a whole new concept to the artists of the time. The ideals of individualism were now becoming a very predominant concept in the writings of the eighteenth century. As Emma Goldman says, “The individual is the true reality of life. A cosmos in himself, he does not exist for the state, nor for that abstraction called “society” or the “nation,” which is only a collection of individuals.” Goldman’s ideals ideas on individualism and its role in society came from the evolving concepts first represented in the Romanticism era. All over the ...view middle of the document...
The theme of emotion over reason is strong through most works of literature during this time period but especially in the poem by Robert Browning, “My last duchesses,” where the Duke’s choices and perceptions of his beautiful wife create many opportunities for the Duke to make choices.
It is true that independence was the hot new thing but independence for men is what was being expressed, not for women. The obligation of a woman to present herself in an appropriate manner as set forth from her husband is one aspect shown in Browning’s poem, “My Last Duchess.” The Duke is the narrator of the poem, and he is entertaining a messenger who has come to settle the Duke’s marriage to the daughter of another wealthy individual. As he shows the visitor through his home, he stops before a portrait of the late Duchess, a young and lovely girl. As he begins the dramatic monologue, which is also another aspect of Romanticism, enlightens his audience about this portrait, the duke also discusses his relationship with the late countess revealing himself as an authoritarian husband who regarded his beautiful wife as a mere object, a possession whose sole mission was to please him. However, the Duke’s conceded imaginary delusions against his wife are what truly make this poem a true Romantic poem. Romanticism is a representation of our true selves as individuals and the choices we make. The stereotype of the “rich man” is another Romanticism quality to this poem. She was happy around everyone and his controlling nature chose to not see her extreme efforts to please him rather only the false evidence of her betrayal. There was no proof of his importance to her in his perception of their marriage. The Duchess’s over all charm and kindness invoked the...