Adriana Ribeiro
English 112
Composition II
14 July 1998
Ramsay E. Wall
The Egomaniacal Murderer’s
The Duke in “My Last Duchess” and the unnamed narrator in “Porphyria’s lover” are egomaniacal
murderers. They both seem to have and uncanny ability to kill one’s who they love.
In the Dukes house there is a portrait of his last duchess on the wall which is covered by a
curtain. This is shown when he says this, ”since none puts by The curtain I have drawn for
you”(358). The Duke is the only one who can pull the curtain off the picture of his last Duchess and
so he is very possessive of her picture and thus gives the idea that he was possessive towards her
when alive.
The Last Duchess was a very happy person, ”A heart-how shall I say?-too soon made
glad”(358). The fact that the Duchess is very happy with the smallest things such as “The bough of
cherries”(359) makes the Duke upset. The Duke thinks his Duchess should not be smiling or
blushing to anyone but him. He also thinks the gifts others give to her are nothing compared to
what he gives her like a “nine-hundred-years-old name”(359). The Duke is jealous that the
Duchess gives favors to other men and so he gets so sick and tired of it that he “gave
commands”(359) and “Then all smiles stopped together”(359).
The Duke has killed his duchess. This act is egomaniacal. The Duke is so selfish that he
decides that since he can’t have her for himself he will prevent anyone from having her by getting
rid of her. He is excessively full of himself and he cannot “stoop down” to his Duchess.
The Duke is obviously a murderer because he gave commands to have her killed. The
Duke is a maniac for killing his Duchess when she really wasn’t doing anything wrong. The
Duchess is a kind hearted person that does not need much to please her because “she liked
whate’er She looked on”(358-359).The Duke is jealous of his Duchess because of her personality
and that everyone likes her and this builds up the Dukes anger towards his Duchess. With all this
anger towards the Duchess, the Duke says enough is enough and thus the Duchess dies at the
hands of her egomaniacal murderer Duke husband.
The Duke is closely related in mind and actions to Porphyria’s lover. Porphyria loves the
unnamed narrator truly. She comes to her lovers cottage and makes the fire, “Blaze up, and all the
cottage warm”(827). This can also mean that she lights the fire of her lovers passion. Porphyria is
risking a lot for her love because she is a married women and this is shown when it is said that,
”To set its struggling passion free From pride, and vainer ties dissever”(837).
She murmurs how she loves him and then the lover realizes “Porphyria worshipped
me”(828) and with pride in his heart he decides what to do. The lover decides he feels like he has
everything and he will not loose it and so he “strangled her”(828). Now the fact that he just tied her
yellow hair around her neck three times and killed her is murderous and unbelievable act of
malice, but then the lover goes to say “No pain she felt”(828). This statement gives the feeling that
the lover is trying to say that he thinks what he did was ‘okay’ because Porphyria felt no pain. The
lover is only concerned with himself and what he wants. He will stop at nothing to get what he
wants and he doesn’t because “The smiling rosy little head”(828) is now his to prop on his
shoulder forever. The Lover also gets what he wants because “God has not said a word!”(828).
Both the Duke and the Lover are egotistical murderers. They both are all inclined into
doing what they want and if its not done then ‘off with her head’. Though the two cases are similar,
there is one protruding difference. The Lover in one way or the other loved Porphyria because if he
had not then he would never have let her head rest on his shoulder and keep her. The Duke on
the other hand really disliked his Duchess and the only sign of love is that he still has he portrait on
the wall. Another difference is that the Lover loved Porphyria but the Duke resents even the
Duchess’s smile. The Duke is more of a grotesque murderer than The Lover.
Another aspect is that the lover killed his love with his hands. He sat there and wrapped
her hair three times around her neck and strangled her. This is a brutal act and even though there
was love, there was murder. It is never actually said how the Duke kills his duchess and this may
be a plus for the Duke because he couldn’t come to murdering the Duchess with his own hands.
Though each man has an argument on who is more righteous than the other, there
remains one simple fact: they took a life. They committed murder in the eyes of God and man and
no righteous act can surpass that judgement. Both men are murders and Egomaniacal ones at