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Compare and Evaluate the Effectiveness and Presentation of Ideas in 'My Last Duchess'

In this worksheet, students will be able to practise their comparison and evaluation skills between 'My Last Duchess' and other poems. This activity is mixed and requires some manual marking near the end, the marking criteria will be clearly detailed for your ease.

'Compare and Evaluate the Effectiveness and Presentation of Ideas in 'My Last Duchess'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA, Pearson Edexcel

Curriculum topic:   Poetry, Poetry Anthology Collections

Curriculum subtopic:   Power and Conflict: 'My Last Duchess', Relationships: 'My Last Duchess'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Want to practice your comparative and evaluation skills between 'My Last Duchess' 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's just a bit of multitasking and 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 'My Last Duchess' Browning uses the painting of the Duchess to symbolise the speaker's control over his dead Duchess. The painting represents the Duke's possessiveness, illustrated by the quote "but to myself they turned (since none puts by the curtain I have drawn for you but I)". This embedded clause showcases the Duke's sense of possessiveness over the Duchess. He does not want anyone looking at the picture, yes, but the quote also highlights how the Duke seems to view the painting as alive. Her eyes must only turn to him.

 

2. Link to another poem!

 

Similarly, in 'Ozymandias' control is extended through inanimate objects. Ozymandias statue is personified as "a shattered visage" with "nothing beside" remaining. Much like the painting of the Duchess, the statue of Ozymandias represents longevity and control.

 

3. Compare!

However, unlike the Duchess, who is being controlled through her painting, Ozymandias, himself, is exerting control. In both cases, the Duke and Ozymandias seem to be deluded as they both attempt to use inanimate pieces of art to maintain their sense of power and grandeur. Both the Duke and Ozymandias are portrayed as arrogant and unhinged.

 

 

4. Evaluate

So, where 'Ozymandias' attempt to make his legacy last through an inanimate piece of art, (which ends up in a "colossal wreck") in the case of the Duchess, it is the Duke who is using her painting to extend his control and legacy.

 

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

Think about comparing 'My Last Duchess' and 'London'

 

Which language feature would make the most sense to compare the two poems with? Write the one correct number down. 

 

1. Contrast

2. Semantic field of sex

3. Semantic field of control and corruption

4. Possessive pronouns

Think about comparing 'My Last Duchess' with 'Exposure'.

 

 

Which feature/theme would make the most sense to compare the two poems with? Write the correct number.

 

1. Motif of love

2. Motif of war

3. Motif death 

 

Think about comparing 'My Last Duchess' with 'Tissue'.

 

Which feature/theme would make the most sense to compare the two poems with? Write the correct number.

 

1. Metaphor/symbolism

2. Familial love

3. Sex

4. Alliteration

 

Think about comparing 'My Last Duchess' to Extract from 'The Prelude'.

 

Which features would make the most sense to compare the two poems with?

 

Write down the correct two numbers.

 

1. Semantic field of nature

2. Motif of familial love

3. Symbolism

4. Rhetorical questions

1

2

3

4

Think about comparing 'My Last Duchess' with 'Checking Out Me History'.

 

Which idea would you use to compare these two poems?

 

The idea that men are controlling

The idea that control is used as a motif in both poems; in 'Duchess' the Duke exerts control; in 'Checking' the speaker's history has been controlled by western history

The idea that both speakers are free to express themselves

The idea that both speakers are controlling and cruel men

Think about comparing 'My Last Duchess' to 'Ozymandias' and 'The Prelude'.

 

 

What themes, language/structural/form features and ideas does each poem have?

 

Some themes are shared between the three poems.

 'Ozymandias''The Prelude''My Last Duchess'
Symbolism
Arrogance
Semantic field of nature
Art

Think about comparing 'My Last Duchess' to 'London'

 

 

What themes, language/structural/form features and ideas does each poem have?

 

Some of these are shared between the two poems.

 Loss of innocenceSemantic field of sexSemantic field of deathSymbolismEmotive language
'My Last Duchess'
'London'

Pick two poems, out of the 8 options below, that you think would be best to compare 'My Last Duchess' with.

 

 

Consider the motif of legacy (things lasting).

Extract from, 'The Prelude'

'Ozymandias'

'Charge of the Light Brigade'

'London'

'Tissue'

'Exposure'

How do 'My Last Duchess' and 'London' present the idea of corruption?

 

Two sentences for how the theme is presented similarly. Make sure to include your evidence (two marks).

 

How do 'Ozymandias' and 'My Last Duchess' present the theme of power?

 

 

Two sentences for how the theme is presented similarly (think about the devices both poems use). Make sure to include your evidence (two marks).

 

Two sentences for how the theme is presented differently. Make sure to include your evidence (two marks).

  • Question 1

Think about comparing 'My Last Duchess' and 'London'

 

Which language feature would make the most sense to compare the two poems with? Write the one correct number down. 

 

1. Contrast

2. Semantic field of sex

3. Semantic field of control and corruption

4. Possessive pronouns

CORRECT ANSWER
3
EDDIE SAYS
Both poems employ a semantic field of control and corruption. In 'London' words such as "manacles", "chartered" and "ban" emphasise the government's role in trapping and oppressing the less privileged people of London. In 'My Last Duchess' language such as "taming" "dies" and "stopped" really convey the depth of the Duke's control over the Duchess' freedom and life.
  • Question 2

Think about comparing 'My Last Duchess' with 'Exposure'.

 

 

Which feature/theme would make the most sense to compare the two poems with? Write the correct number.

 

1. Motif of love

2. Motif of war

3. Motif death 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
3
EDDIE SAYS
The motif of death is present in both poems. In 'Duchess' we have words such as "faint" "dies" and even words such as "stopped" and "stooped" which suggest death or termination. Similarly, in 'Exposure' we have language such as "ache" "silence" and "dying", amongst many more, which summarise the trapped, dark, fatal feeling of the poem. But look deeper. How do these poems present the motif differently? Looking at the content of the poem, does 'My Last Duchess' portray death as a cause of corrupt jealousy, compared to 'Exposure' where death is caused by the weather (and wartime).
  • Question 3

Think about comparing 'My Last Duchess' with 'Tissue'.

 

Which feature/theme would make the most sense to compare the two poems with? Write the correct number.

 

1. Metaphor/symbolism

2. Familial love

3. Sex

4. Alliteration

 

CORRECT ANSWER
1
EDDIE SAYS
Both poems use metaphor/symbolism to portray an idea. In 'Duchess' the symbolic painting portrays the Duke's corrupt, jealous nature. In 'Tissue' Dharker uses the extended metaphor of a tissue to convey more abstract ideas about the immortality of concepts such as humanity.
  • Question 4

Think about comparing 'My Last Duchess' to Extract from 'The Prelude'.

 

Which features would make the most sense to compare the two poems with?

 

Write down the correct two numbers.

 

1. Semantic field of nature

2. Motif of familial love

3. Symbolism

4. Rhetorical questions

CORRECT ANSWER
1
3
EDDIE SAYS
It's getting a bit harder, but it's okay because there are two correct answers here! So hopefully you've looked closely at the two poems and deduced that they both use a semantic field of nature and symbolism.
  • Question 5

Think about comparing 'My Last Duchess' with 'Checking Out Me History'.

 

Which idea would you use to compare these two poems?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The idea that control is used as a motif in both poems; in 'Duchess' the Duke exerts control; in 'Checking' the speaker's history has been controlled by western history
EDDIE SAYS
Both poems address the idea of control in different ways.
  • Question 6

Think about comparing 'My Last Duchess' to 'Ozymandias' and 'The Prelude'.

 

 

What themes, language/structural/form features and ideas does each poem have?

 

Some themes are shared between the three poems.

CORRECT ANSWER
 'Ozymandias''The Prelude''My Last Duchess'
Symbolism
Arrogance
Semantic field of nature
Art
EDDIE SAYS
Ideally, this has got you to look at shared ideas and linguistic devices across the three poems! Jot down any overlapping features with supporting quotes. Think about how these ideas/devices convey certain attitudes too.
  • Question 7

Think about comparing 'My Last Duchess' to 'London'

 

 

What themes, language/structural/form features and ideas does each poem have?

 

Some of these are shared between the two poems.

CORRECT ANSWER
 Loss of innocenceSemantic field of sexSemantic field of deathSymbolismEmotive language
'My Last Duchess'
'London'
EDDIE SAYS
Make a note of shared features across the two poems. From this, you can make a great piece of revision.
  • Question 8

Pick two poems, out of the 8 options below, that you think would be best to compare 'My Last Duchess' with.

 

 

Consider the motif of legacy (things lasting).

CORRECT ANSWER
'Ozymandias'
'Tissue'
EDDIE SAYS
Both 'Tissue' and 'Ozymandias' are the two poems which include the motif of legacy. In 'Tissue' the extended metaphor of the tissue is used to convey the idea that humanity's impact will last forever which is poignant and starkly constrasts Ozymandias' desire to live forever through his statue. This is presented as ironic as there's this idea that nature will last longer than humanity ever will. 'My Last Duchess' is interesting and falls outside of these two opposing ideas. Browning presents legacy as something which the Duke feels is his right. In a way, he is forcing the Duchess to live forever, under his scrutiny, through the painting he has of her.
  • Question 9

How do 'My Last Duchess' and 'London' present the idea of corruption?

 

Two sentences for how the theme is presented similarly. Make sure to include your evidence (two marks).

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
With questions like these, try and think as logically as possible. How are the two themes presented and what devices do the writers use to get the themes across? So, thinking about the subject's attitudes, the speaker's attitudes and the subject matter of in the poem is a great idea. Then, think about how these attitudes are presented. Is it through passionate adjectives, symbolism/metaphor, maybe short sentences? Lastly, you've detailed out all the important bits. Now structure your answer in a simple paragraph. I.e. Where Blake's poem presents the theme of (x) as (x), Browning's poem presents the theme of (x). In Blake, this is done by (x) which presents the theme of (x) as (x). On the other hand, Browning uses (x) to present the theme of (x) as (x).
  • Question 10

How do 'Ozymandias' and 'My Last Duchess' present the theme of power?

 

 

Two sentences for how the theme is presented similarly (think about the devices both poems use). Make sure to include your evidence (two marks).

 

Two sentences for how the theme is presented differently. Make sure to include your evidence (two marks).

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
With questions like these, try and think as logically as possible. How are the two themes presented and, what devices do the writers use to get the themes across? So, thinking about the subject's attitudes, the speaker's attitudes and what's actually going on in the poem (easier done than you might think) is a great idea. Then, think about how these attitudes are presented. Is it through passionate adjectives, symbolism/metaphor, maybe short sentences? Lastly, you've detailed out all the important bits. Now structure your answer in a simple paragraph. I.e. Where Browning's poem presented the theme of (x) as (x), Shelley's poem presents the theme of (x). In Browning, this is done by (x) which presents the theme of (x) as (x). On the other hand, Shelley uses (x) to present the theme of (x) as (x).
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