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Want to practise your comparative and evaluation skills between Extract from 'The Prelude' and other poems?


Thought bubble


Well, you've come to the right place because this activity will help you learn to compare and evaluate ideas/attitudes/themes at the same time. It requires some multitasking but you can do it!


It'll take some good deduction skills, as well as an understanding of the themes and ideas you want to discuss. You need to think about how the poet presents ideas differently/similarly in both poems. 

1. Make your point!


 In Extract from 'The Prelude', Wordsworth presents a semantic field of sexual language, using language such as "troubled pleasure", "dipped" and "lustily".


2. Link to another poem!

Similarly, in 'My Last Duchess', the speaker (the Duke) uses a semantic field of sexual language to incriminate the Duchess (that is, make the Duchess seem like a criminal). Language such as "blush", "half flush" and "passion" all have an unmistakable allusion towards sex. 


3. Compare!

Both poems use sexual language differently. In Wordsworth, the sexual language is used to emphasise the speaker's transition from boy to man, it's symbolic. The speaker, Wordsworth, may well be having sex with a girl, but what is more important is the idea that sex is indicative of change. In fact, the entire whole poem is about change, as Wordsworth discovers the importance and power of nature, he matures. However, in 'My Last Duchess', it's not the speaker who is having sexual thoughts or transitioning in any way. Instead, he is using sexual language to accuse the Duchess of cheating on him. 


4. Evaluate

Both 'My Last Duchess' and Extract from 'The Prelude' use sexual language to convey something deeper. In Wordsworth's case, the sexual language is metaphorical and conveys a change. In Browning, the Duke is using sexual language to convey his jealousy and anger towards the Duchess. 


A tip: it'll help to jot down any new/helpful advice you get given in this activity!


You should always refer to your own text when working through these examples. These quotations are for reference only.

10 questions
The quotations/text used in this exercise are from the copyrighted works of William Wordsworth, ‘The Prelude’ and Robert Browning, 'My Last Duchess'