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A Woman's Last Word

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Megan Clarkson

on 10 December 2012

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Transcript of A Woman's Last Word

Robert Browning A Woman's Last Word Subject Matter and Themes Context Browning's wife Elizabeth was very religious, and the links to religion in this poem could be him suggesting that aspects of the persona he has taken on were inspired by her.

When Browning was writing, women were not supposed to speak for themselves, and women were expected to give in to all the wims of their lovers. Language Techniques Personification - Browning personfies evil, describing it as 'the creature stalking' as if it is a physical thing that is creeping the lovers, waiting until the day their arguments become too much and it can finally infiltrate their relationship.
Symbolism - 'the apple reddens' red is associated with passion, and fire, exactly what the narrator craves. Imagery Biblical imagery - 'Lest we lose our Edens/ Eve and I' Browning links to the two 'original' lovers, Adam and Eve, and the paradise they live in, the speaker, seems to be worried about the temptation to speak out against her husband. Just as Eve was tempted by the 'serpent' .
Also, Browning often called his wife Elizabeth, Eve. Rhyme and Rhythm Browning uses an ABAB CDCD rhyme scheme, the alernating rhyming couplets could represent how they quickly make up after each fight because they will always be intertwined with each other.

The rhythm created by the short, quick stanzas, combined with Browning's use of enjambement gives the poem a fast and light feeling, possibly, again representing how quickly they forgive each other, and the fast pace of their relationship. Structure and Form The poem is made up of ten four line stanzas, the constant stanza length and structure allows the reader to be more comfortable with the poem because they get used to it. This means the reader can make their own judgements about the content of the poem rather than be distracted by the irregularity of it all. Tone The tone of the poem is quite desperate, as the speaker wants to curl up with her lover and craves his attention, however, she doesn't want to conform to the stereotype of women.
She wants to show strength and independence and battles with herself in wanting the support of her lover but also wanting some respect. Links to other poems - Two in the Campagna – disappointment and misunderstanding
(the continual search for peace with her lover)

- The Lost Leader – infidelity, desertion (feeling alone after her fight with her lover)

- Apparent Failure –feeling vulnerable

- Pictor Ignotus / A Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister - jealousy Meg
Bonello. Sexual imagery - the sixth stanza.

In the sizth stanza the narrator's frustration is expressed quite explicitly, 'be a man and fold me/ with thine arm!' she wants her lover to perform the acts expected by a man and wants him to take control. Yet she seems to be the one ordering him around, possibly belittling him, and making him feel less of a man - possibly why he isn't meeting her needs. This poem is different to most of Browning's other works because it is the only one written from the view of a woman.
It can be seen as a love poem, but it also includes the themes of anger, temptation, passion, domineering, stereotyping and reconciliation. The narrator is fighting against herself and her temptation, she wants the attention of her lover but also hates herself for it because of their continued arguments. The feeling created by the short, quick stanzas is one of passion and possible desperation - this could be reflecting how the speaker feels as if the passion in her relationship is missing and the desperation is her begging for it back, especially towards the middle of the poem, when Browning uses exclamation marks, but towards the end of the poem, she realises she may not be satisfied sexually by him and becomes content with just having love. The narrator seems to go in a circle, first willing her love to 'only sleep' but then changing her mind and imploring him to 'hold me', but then, in the last stanza she tells him to 'fall asleep love'. She seems to be used to going in this circle, as if she knows the best way to keep the peace is to tell him what he wants to hear, rather than repeating her wishes. The narrator goes completely against this formality as she appears to being speaking for him and it is only written from her point of view, she is, however, still fighting against society's wishes, as she is willing to go with his views and thoughts so they can keep order, however, Browning mocks this idea with the title 'A Woman's Last Word' suggesting that it is her who actually wears the trousers.
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