My Last Duchess, Punishment, And Capital Punishment Poems Involving Decentralization And Marginalization Term Paper

Length: 2 pages Subject: Literature Type: Term Paper Paper: #93682135 Related Topics: Last Duchess, Poem Analysis, Adultery, Capital Punishment
Excerpt from Term Paper :

¶ … Last Duchess';'Punishment'; 'Capital Punishment'

Three Poems of Decentralization and Marginalization: Browning's "My Last Duchess; Heaney's "Punishment"; and Alexie's "Capital Punishment"

Within the poems "My Last Duchess" by Robert Browning; Punishment by Seamus Heaney; and "Capital Punishment" by Sherman Alexie, all three authors deal, although in much different ways, with shifting, and often surprising, relationships between centrality and marginality: of speaker, subject, or both. In Browning's "My Last Duchess, for example the speaker, a duke (the sort of figure one least expects to say or do anything that might cause him to be seen as "marginal," or even unusual, recollects in detail the various jealousy-provoking and ultimately fatal behaviors of his "last duchess." These, at least in the speaker's mind, have given him justifiable cause to kill her. All that remains of her now is her portrait on the wall. In this essay, I will analyze ways that all three poems deal thematically with the tensions and interplay between centralization and marginalization.

Perhaps the dead Duchess's greatest...


Such "positive marginalization" (so to speak) would, it seems, have made him less angry at her and consequently less self-justified in his killing of her. However, as he states instead:

Somehow - I know not how - as if she ranked

My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name

With anybody's gift. (lines 32-34)

The speaker's deliberate, sneering repetition of the word "gift" underscores the powerfulness of his feelings about having had that "gift" rejected by the Duchess. The Duchess's lack of discrimination in this respect seems to have been her "crime." As the speaker adds a few lines later:

Oh sir,…

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