The Literary Devices in Browning's and Marvell's Poetry

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Both the speaker in Browning's “My Last Duchess” and the speaker in Marvell’s “To his Coy Mistress” employ many literary devices to reveal they're true inner nature. Both speakers are intense individuals that know what they want and aren't afraid to impose their thoughts on other people. These two men are solid characters who reveal their inner nature through various bouts of tenacious irony, excellent diction, and powerful symbolism. Both speakers employ irony to force the readers to ponder the author's message all the while emphasizing a central idea and revealing their character. Browning utilizes irony in many different instances while describing the duke's 'last dutchess.' Browning states, 'For calling up that spot of joy. She had/ A heart – how shall I say? – too soon made glad./ Too easily impressed....' (21-23) The spot of joy is the dutchess's crowning characteristic; she is always happy, and this is an aspect of her life she cannot control.

This problem is ironically the source of the Duke's frustration. He believes he should be the only person allowed to make her blush or feel any positive emotions at all. This fact leads the audience to witness his elitist mentally. He feels his title automatically makes him better than the rest, and therefore she should be happy only with him. Likewise, Marville applies irony in his work as well. However, his use of irony is less textual and more situational. Marville states, “Had we but world enough and time / This coyness, lady, were no crime / We would sit down and think which way / To walk, and pass our long love’s day” (1-4). Marville wants to seal his relationship through the passionate act of sex and believes their time together is too precious to be squandered without intimacy. The lady, on the other hand, wants to make sure the love is pure and commitment is the only way she can be convinced of the speaker's true intentions. Both parties are inherently correct in their viewpoints. The speaker is right in believing that with pure love time is a precious commodity and the lady in understanding that commitment is the real test of love. Both Poets use irony as a catalyst to convey central issues of the plot. Browning and Marvell both use stellar bouts of diction to reveal their thoughts to the audience. The speaker in Browning's 'My Last Duchess' uses language typical of a self-absorbed aristocrat.

The speaker states, 'E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose/Never to stoop.' (42-43) This quote provides insight into the inner workings of the Duke's mind. He believes he is superior to even the woman he married. He sees himself as so mighty that talking to his wife about a perceived problem would be an insult to his authority. These facts prove the speaker to be an egotistical man spoiled by nine centuries of familial fortune. Additionally, diction is prevalent throughout Marvell's work. Marvell employs diction to plead his case on why the listener should have sex with him. He uses many instances of hyperbole to establish a persuasive argument. Marvell writes, 'An hundred years should go to praise/ Thine eyes on that forehead gaze;/ Two hundred to adore each breast,/ But thirty thousand to the rest...' (13-16) Marvell is saying that if he had the time, he would spend ages adoring every body part. However, he does not have forever which is why he is emphasizing his agenda now. He loves her and wants to love her from now until the end of his days if only she would let him. This fact contributes mostly to the stories theme of 'carpe diem.' Both of these poets apply stellar bouts of diction to develop their character and give the reader information regarding the minds of these men.

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The Literary Devices in Browning’s and Marvell’s Poetry. (2020, December 14). WritingBros. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“The Literary Devices in Browning’s and Marvell’s Poetry.” WritingBros, 14 Dec. 2020,
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