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Compare Language in 'My Last Duchess' and other Poems

In this worksheet, students will practise their language comparison skills between 'My Last Duchess' and other poems.

'Compare Language in 'My Last Duchess' and other Poems' 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 compare your language comparison skills in 'My Last Duchess' and other poems?

 

 

Thought bubble

 

 

Well, you've come to the right place. In this activity, you'll learn to practice comparing the way the poets use language to convey different and similar attitudes and ideas. 

 

 

In your exam, you'll do really well to compare the way that poets use language to present their attitudes. You'll do even better if you can compare the way they use language to present different/similar attitudes and ideas. You'll do the best if you can compare the language that is used and how it's used.

 

 

 

 

Here's an example of some good language comparison:

 

In 'My Last Duchess' Browning uses the repetition of the personal pronoun "my" to emphasise the Duke's arrogance. In fact, the poem begins "that's my last Duchess", which immediately presents the Duchess as the Duke's possession, suggesting that he is controlling and believes that the Duchess, even in death, is his object. Similarly, Blake in 'London' employs repetition to emphasise certain words; "cry" "marks" and "chartered" are repeated. In Blake's case, repetition of these words emphasises the suffering of the lower-class. 

"A heart- how shall I say?- too soon made glad"

 

In the poem 'My Last Duchess' Blake conveys an ironic tone.

 

Tick one other poem which uses irony.

 

'Checking Out Me History'

'Bayonet Charge'

'Ozymandias'

In 'My Last Duchess', Browning uses the technique of a semantic field of sexuality in "half-flush", "blush", "passion".

 

 

What other poem uses a semantic field of sexuality?

1. London ("cry", "blood", "blights")

2. Extract from 'The Prelude' ("pleasure" "unloosened" "lustily")

3. Ozymandias ("sunk" "shattered" "colossal")

4. Exposure ("awake" "successive" "cringe")

In 'My Last Duchess' Browning presents the theme of corruption.

 

Which two other poems present this theme? Write the title of the one poem in the text box, below.

 

'Charge of the Light Brigade'

'Ozymandias'

'London'

'Checking out Me History'

In 'My Last Duchess', Browning uses sibilance to present the Duke's disgust

 

"half-flush that dies along her throat; such stuff was courtesy, she thought..."

 

Which other poems use sibilance to present something negative? Write the name of the correct poem, below.

 

'Exposure'

'Charge Of The Light Brigade'

'Checking Out Me History'

'Tissue'

How do 'My Last Duchess' and 'Exposure' differ?

 

Pick one from the options below. Put the correct number in the text box:

 

1. Where 'My Last Duchess' uses a semantic field of nature ("cherries", "mule" "daylight" "orchard") to convey the Duchess' passion for natural things, 'Exposure' uses a semantic field of nature ("stormy" "snow-dazed" "flakes") to present nature as dangerous.

 

2. Where 'My Last Duchess' uses a semantic field of nature ('cherries', 'mule' 'daylight' 'orchard') to convey the Duchess' passion for natural things, 'Exposure' uses a semantic field of nature ('stormy' 'snow-dazed' 'flakes') to personify nature and present it as calm.

How does 'My Last Duchess' compare with 'Ozymandias'

 

Pick one option from below. Write the correct number in the text box.

 

1.In both poems, art is used to symbolise something. In 'My Last Duchess', the painting of the Duchess symbolises the Duke's control over the Duchess, even after he has killed her. The artwork symbolises how much of an object the Duchess is to the Duke, dehumanising her and emphasising his dominating nature. In 'Ozymandias' the statue of Ozymandias is also symbolic- it represents Ozymandias' success.

 

2. In both poems, art is used to symbolise something. In 'My Last Duchess', the painting of the Duchess symbolises the Duke's control over the Duchess, even after he has killed her. The artwork symbolises how much of an object the Duchess is to the Duke, dehumanising her and emphasising his dominating nature. In 'Ozymandias' the statue of Ozymandias is also symbolic- it shows Ozymandias' arrogance and desire to last forever. However, the fact that the statue is a "wreck" emphasises how Ozymandias' legacy has not lasted.  

How do 'My Last Duchess' and 'London' compare?

 

Write the one correct number in the text box.

 

1. 'My Last Duchess' addresses the idea of control and corruption. The Duke uses the metaphor of Neptune "taming" a sea-horse at the end of the poem to show how he has controlled (and killed) the Duchess. The present continuous verb "taming" suggests that the Duke will continue to control and dominate his future wife and, if she disobeys him, he will kill her, too. There's a cycle of corruption and cruelty implicit in the poem; the Duke will never change. Similarly, 'London' presents the theme of corruption as cyclical and ongoing. The "mind-forgd" manacles ends the poem on a more positive and uplifting note.

 

2. 'My Last Duchess' addresses the idea of control and corruption. The Duke uses the metaphor of Neptune "taming" a sea-horse at the end of the poem to show how he has controlled (and killed) the Duchess. The present continuous verb "taming" suggests that the Duke will continue to control and dominate his future wife and, if she disobeys him, he will kill her, too. There's a cycle of corruption and cruelty implicit in the poem; the Duke will never change. Similarly, 'London' presents the theme of corruption as cyclical and ongoing. The reference to the "infant's cry" in the second stanza, and then again, the "new-born infant's tear" in the last stanza, presents an ongoing idea of suffering as a cause of corruption.

Tick the devices which belong to 'My Last Duchess' and 'Storm on the Island'. Some are shared.

 Semantic field of natureSemantic field of sexualityMetaphors/SimilePersonificationSymbolism
'My Last Duchess'
'Storm on the Island'

Name one other poem where, like 'My Last Duchess', there are present-continuous verbs (-ing words).

 

 

Write the correct poem in the text box below.

 

'Tissue'

'Charge of the Light Brigade'

'Checking Out Me History'

Last one! A little bit easier, this time.

 

 

Tick three language devices which link 'My Last Duchess' and 'Ozymandias'.

Personal pronouns

Rhetorical questions

Metaphors/symbolism

Sibilance

Semantic field of sexuality

Caesura

  • Question 1

"A heart- how shall I say?- too soon made glad"

 

In the poem 'My Last Duchess' Blake conveys an ironic tone.

 

Tick one other poem which uses irony.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
'Ozymandias'
EDDIE SAYS
'Ozymandias' also uses irony. In 'My Last Duchess', irony is used to present the Duke as fake, pretending to be humble, as if he's fumbling to find the correct word. As the poem unfolds, we realise that, actually, the Duke isn't quite as humble or gentle as the language he initially uses presents him. 'Ozymandias' also conveys irony. It's a lot more straightforward- Ozymandias' character is presented as arrogant, especially the bit where he says "look on my works". In reality, all that's left of his works is "decay".
  • Question 2

In 'My Last Duchess', Browning uses the technique of a semantic field of sexuality in "half-flush", "blush", "passion".

 

 

What other poem uses a semantic field of sexuality?

1. London ("cry", "blood", "blights")

2. Extract from 'The Prelude' ("pleasure" "unloosened" "lustily")

3. Ozymandias ("sunk" "shattered" "colossal")

4. Exposure ("awake" "successive" "cringe")

CORRECT ANSWER
2
EDDIE SAYS
Extract from 'The Prelude' uses a semantic field of sexuality.
  • Question 3

In 'My Last Duchess' Browning presents the theme of corruption.

 

Which two other poems present this theme? Write the title of the one poem in the text box, below.

 

'Charge of the Light Brigade'

'Ozymandias'

'London'

'Checking out Me History'

CORRECT ANSWER
London
'London'
Ozymandias
'Ozymandias'
EDDIE SAYS
Both 'London' and 'Ozymandias' have corruption as a central theme in their poems.
  • Question 4

In 'My Last Duchess', Browning uses sibilance to present the Duke's disgust

 

"half-flush that dies along her throat; such stuff was courtesy, she thought..."

 

Which other poems use sibilance to present something negative? Write the name of the correct poem, below.

 

'Exposure'

'Charge Of The Light Brigade'

'Checking Out Me History'

'Tissue'

CORRECT ANSWER
Exposure
'Exposure'
EDDIE SAYS
'Exposure' is the other poem which uses sibilance to make the sound/tone of the poem more negative and harsh!
  • Question 5

How do 'My Last Duchess' and 'Exposure' differ?

 

Pick one from the options below. Put the correct number in the text box:

 

1. Where 'My Last Duchess' uses a semantic field of nature ("cherries", "mule" "daylight" "orchard") to convey the Duchess' passion for natural things, 'Exposure' uses a semantic field of nature ("stormy" "snow-dazed" "flakes") to present nature as dangerous.

 

2. Where 'My Last Duchess' uses a semantic field of nature ('cherries', 'mule' 'daylight' 'orchard') to convey the Duchess' passion for natural things, 'Exposure' uses a semantic field of nature ('stormy' 'snow-dazed' 'flakes') to personify nature and present it as calm.

CORRECT ANSWER
1
EDDIE SAYS
One is the correct answer. In both poems, you have the same semantic use of natural imagery. However, nature plays very different roles in both poems. In 'My Last Duchess' nature is used as a way of showing the Duchess' simple personality. She much prefers natural things over the Duke's "nine-hundred-years-old name"). Nature is used to show and symbolise the Duchess' humble nature. However, in 'Exposure' nature has a more active role. It is personified into something dangerous and harmful.
  • Question 6

How does 'My Last Duchess' compare with 'Ozymandias'

 

Pick one option from below. Write the correct number in the text box.

 

1.In both poems, art is used to symbolise something. In 'My Last Duchess', the painting of the Duchess symbolises the Duke's control over the Duchess, even after he has killed her. The artwork symbolises how much of an object the Duchess is to the Duke, dehumanising her and emphasising his dominating nature. In 'Ozymandias' the statue of Ozymandias is also symbolic- it represents Ozymandias' success.

 

2. In both poems, art is used to symbolise something. In 'My Last Duchess', the painting of the Duchess symbolises the Duke's control over the Duchess, even after he has killed her. The artwork symbolises how much of an object the Duchess is to the Duke, dehumanising her and emphasising his dominating nature. In 'Ozymandias' the statue of Ozymandias is also symbolic- it shows Ozymandias' arrogance and desire to last forever. However, the fact that the statue is a "wreck" emphasises how Ozymandias' legacy has not lasted.  

CORRECT ANSWER
2
EDDIE SAYS
Answer two is correct. In both poems, art is symbolic. Art represents the Duke and Ozymandias' arrogance, domination and need to control.
  • Question 7

How do 'My Last Duchess' and 'London' compare?

 

Write the one correct number in the text box.

 

1. 'My Last Duchess' addresses the idea of control and corruption. The Duke uses the metaphor of Neptune "taming" a sea-horse at the end of the poem to show how he has controlled (and killed) the Duchess. The present continuous verb "taming" suggests that the Duke will continue to control and dominate his future wife and, if she disobeys him, he will kill her, too. There's a cycle of corruption and cruelty implicit in the poem; the Duke will never change. Similarly, 'London' presents the theme of corruption as cyclical and ongoing. The "mind-forgd" manacles ends the poem on a more positive and uplifting note.

 

2. 'My Last Duchess' addresses the idea of control and corruption. The Duke uses the metaphor of Neptune "taming" a sea-horse at the end of the poem to show how he has controlled (and killed) the Duchess. The present continuous verb "taming" suggests that the Duke will continue to control and dominate his future wife and, if she disobeys him, he will kill her, too. There's a cycle of corruption and cruelty implicit in the poem; the Duke will never change. Similarly, 'London' presents the theme of corruption as cyclical and ongoing. The reference to the "infant's cry" in the second stanza, and then again, the "new-born infant's tear" in the last stanza, presents an ongoing idea of suffering as a cause of corruption.

CORRECT ANSWER
2
EDDIE SAYS
If you picked answer two, well done! Both poems present the theme of corruption and use different language devices to do so. Where 'My Last Duchess' uses more hints in the metaphor and symbolism, 'London' is a little bit more obvious, as the speaker is pointing a clear finger at the upper-classes and government for their lack of responsibility in looking after London's poor.
  • Question 8

Tick the devices which belong to 'My Last Duchess' and 'Storm on the Island'. Some are shared.

CORRECT ANSWER
 Semantic field of natureSemantic field of sexualityMetaphors/SimilePersonificationSymbolism
'My Last Duchess'
'Storm on the Island'
EDDIE SAYS
Hopefully, this table will help you revise the differences and similarities. Remember, contrasting features are just as important as points of comparison. Furthermore, if these distances and similarities are expressed through language, structure and even form then try and find a way to explain how. The simplest explanation will do- start from there and then you can go into detail and start linking language features to themes.
  • Question 9

Name one other poem where, like 'My Last Duchess', there are present-continuous verbs (-ing words).

 

 

Write the correct poem in the text box below.

 

'Tissue'

'Charge of the Light Brigade'

'Checking Out Me History'

CORRECT ANSWER
Checking Out Me History
'Checking Out Me History'
EDDIE SAYS
'Checking Out Me History' uses present-continuous verbs at the end ("but now I checking out me own history"). Both poems use present-continuous verbs to create a sense of immediacy for different reasons. In 'My Last Duchess' the Duke seems to be using present-continuous verbs as if the Duchess is still alive. In a way, she still is, for the Duke, as he sees the painting of her as a way to control her. In 'Checking', present-continuous verbs are used in the last stanza, for a much more positive reason! Agard's speaker is bringing immediacy into the poem. His ancestors' pasts have been erased for so long; now he's addressing that!
  • Question 10

Last one! A little bit easier, this time.

 

 

Tick three language devices which link 'My Last Duchess' and 'Ozymandias'.

CORRECT ANSWER
Personal pronouns
Metaphors/symbolism
Sibilance
EDDIE SAYS
Both poems share a range of language devices. Think about how these language devices show similar/different themes.
---- OR ----

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