With within Browning’s dramatic monologues are men who

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With reference to a range of secondary sources and contextual factors compare how love is presented as a destructive force to both society and the individual in ‘Carol’ and a selection of Browning’s poetry.Love is a powerful and prevalent force within Highsmith and Browning’s work. The presence of this emotion, or lack thereof, drives many of the character’s interactions and thus carries the plot. Yet many of the developments resulting from one form of love or another have harmful consequences which show the true destructive power of a force that is traditionally viewed as an endlessly positive aspect of life. Different forms of love are explored in the texts, particularly in Highsmith’s novel as she depicts; platonic, romantic and parental loves, whilst focusing on the jealousy and resentment that unrequited love can form. Browning chooses to focus on romantic love and the ways in which it changes throughout life, be it bittersweet and longing such as ‘Two in the Campagna’ or dangerous and obsessive within ‘Porphyria’s lover.’ This contrast in representation shows the breadth and depth of the theme, as its many forms and influences can be seen and felt in all areas of life. The narrators within Browning’s dramatic monologues are men who search for power and gain it through domination of women, which is echoed within Highsmith’s work as Richard and Harge both show wishes to control their respective partners. Jennifer Gribble supports the idea that Browning’s male characters have an insatiable desire for power as she comments on the Duke who “murders his young wife because her physical vitality challenges his need for absolute control”1 and the lover who by claiming Porphyria as his own finds “romantic absolutism that assures the lover of his power to possess, to control, to save, and to avenge.”1 Highsmith comments on the male’s experience of love through Carol, claiming “It’s not love. It’s a compulsion.”2 Love can be viewed as a destructive force in every area it appears, as its presence inspires madness and jealousy within those who feel it, or resentment and guilt in those receiving unwanted attention.A crucial relationship throughout ‘Carol’ is the one between Therese and her boyfriend, Richard. Through this relationship Highsmith demonstrates the dangers of unrequited love, as she highlights the resentment and guilt that grows due to the relentless affection Richard places upon Therese. Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit AHighsmith shows the suffocating nature of this relationship as Richard physically draws Therese to him “He took her hands and drew her arms around his waist.”2 Highsmith builds Richard and Therese’s relationship upon a foundation of problems as she leaves frequent remarks such as she “didn’t love Richard enough to marry him”2 and “felt rather miserable.”2 This lack of attraction is continued in the exploration of Therese’s feelings as though she had feelings for Richard they “bore no resemblance to what she had read about love.”2 Here Highsmith shows the reader that Therese hasn’t fallen in love yet as she has an idealistic view of how it will feel and prefers fictitious examples to the affection bestowed upon her by Richard. Browning also demonstrates this asymmetrical and waning love within ‘Two in the Campagna’ where he depicts one lover yearning after a lost time and their partner. This poem reflects many of Therese’s feelings, as Browning states “I would that you were all to me, | You that are just so much, no more.”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A3 Here he is showing the reader that the love shared between these two people in finite, despite the narrator wishing they shared a deeper connection. This reflects Highsmith’s decision to depict a tepid relationship between Richard and Therese, the latter of which resembles Browning’s narrator in the respect that they both wish they felt a deeper love than they do. However, Browning’s lover is much more amorous and longs to love their partner whilst Therese is unenthused by Richard. This is because Browning is intentionally capturing the spirit of a love that has been worn by time, as “the good minute goes”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A3 and with it the intense and youthful love that can’t be sustained. Carol Rumens proposes the idea that the youthful love is fleeting because “a perfect union is impossible; they cannot fuse into one self”4 and as such their love isn’t divine. Unless they gain a “transcendent union”4 which the speaker longs for then their love will be contained only within “shared experience(s)”4 and as such is at risk, as it could degrade due to time or separation. Browning’s poem is pastoral, and he uses this to demonstrate the unsustainability of the idealised youthful love. Within the initial stanzas there is an abundance of natural images such as “yellowing fennel”3, “yonder weed”3, “honey-meal”3 and “champaign with its endless fleece | Of feathery grasses”3. This imagery represents the spring and summer of love using nature. The positivity of the love is emphasised through “champaign”3 alluding to something expensive, seductive and refined and “yellowing”3 crops which conjures connotations of the sun and summer. Therefore, as Browning slowly removes the natural imagery from the poem the reader is struck by how barren it has become. This is intentional as Browning has chosen to use imagery to create a visual display of the way love ages and degrades over time. Highsmith also uses strong scenic imagery as she depicts a vision of Therese “in Europe with Richard next summer, sitting with him in sidewalk cafés”2 and “choosing towns to stop in for a while and paint.”2 However, Highsmith’s idyllic imagery has a different effect as the contrast between the idyllic future and her current surroundings make Therese uncertain this future could exist causing it to “seem(ed) less real.”2 Therefore the two works differ as Highsmith’s relationship remains constant and lacklustre causing a disconnect between any positive imagery and the present day whilst Browning’s lovers are granted “Infinite passion”3 in the painful memories of their lost love and solace in the idyllic imagery contained in those memories. Love’s negative influences upon an individual are explored through the idea of possession and entrapment by both authors. Highsmith uses the theme of being stuck or “cemented”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A2Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A within a relationship early in the novel, when she places Therese within Mrs Robicheck’s apartment. Mrs Robicheck’s home is used as a metaphor for Therese and Richard’s relationship, as the reader witnesses the way Therese is physically trapped in the apartment and thus mentally trapped within her relationship and wishes to “flee.”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A2Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A The dull monotony of Mrs Robicheck’s existence is highlighted to show the reader the “hopelessness”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A2Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A Therese faces if she continues to live the way she currently is with Richard. Browning also explores this theme but chooses to focus on the aftermath of the capture, which can be seen in ‘My Last Duchess.’ Kathryn Hughes argues that in the 19Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit AthNancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A century “The two sexes now inhabited what Victorians thought of as ‘separate spheres.”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A5Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A Men were physically and socially more dominant and powerful, yet women were considered to be “morally superior to men, which meant that they were best suited to the domestic sphere.”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A5Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A Therefore from the onset Browning chooses to show deviation from the conventions of the time as the Duke believes himself to be superior to his wife in all aspects of life, whilst the Duchess is thought to be morally inferior. The Duke wishes to possess the Duchess’ unrivalled respect and adoration, therefore “the approving speech, | Or blush”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A6Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A the Duchess shows to men causes the Duke to doubt her devotion to him. The view that “Women were assumed to desire marriage because it allowed them to become mothers rather than to pursue sexual or emotional satisfaction”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A5 was common within this time period and Browning shows that any expression of female desires or love such as a “Half-flush that dies along her throat”6 was dangerous as the woman would be dismissed as promiscuous. Browning shows this through the Dukes interpretation of the Duchess’ “courtesy”6 stating that “she liked whate’er | She looked on, and her looks went everywhere”6, therefore the Duchess needed to be controlled by the Duke and restrained from acting on these impulses, which he does by trapping her within a painting, covered by a curtain which the Duke has control over “since none puts by | The curtain I have drawn for you, but I.”6 Here Browning shows that any female’s expression of love could be perceived as promiscuous and lead to her capture and entrapment. Highsmith also explores the implications of a female expressing love sexually by extending her previous metaphor, as sleeping in Mrs Robicheck’s home is likened to having sex with Richard, “she shouldn’t lie down…If she did, she was lost. The chains would lock.” As long as Therese doesn’t give herself physically to Richard she is preventing him from claiming her and taking her freedom. Browning returns to the implications of women participating in sexual behaviours within ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ in which he once again deviates from typical gender roles. Stephanie M. McConnell claims that Porphyria “plays the “dominate” role – reserved in Victorian gender dynamics for men.”7 As such her behaviour reflects that of a man seducing a woman as she “made her smooth white shoulder bare”8 whilst “Murmuring how she loved me.”8 Once again Browning uses the lack of control in the male and the sexual promiscuity of the female as the catalyst for murder. When Porphyria gives in to “passion”8 and “tonight’s gay feast”8 through her sexual behaviours she loses her power and becomes trapped, at the mercy of her lover who through dominating her physically is now able to dominate her in all aspects. Browning ensures that the lover’s thoughts turn to murder after their sexual acts have been performed, as the lover “is prompted to kill her in order to preserve the moment, in order to sustain this ownership.”7 Both Browning and Highsmith show the negative consequences of physical love for women, as it results in them losing their sense of self and any power they hold within their relationships.Richard’s desires for Therese to move to Europe with him and sacrifice her current life and Therese’s Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit Arebellious attitude towards his love for her reflect the society Highsmith was living in. After the Second World War an idealistic domestic picture emerged within America, pertaining to “a happy life of family togetherness in which everyone had a specified role.”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A9Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A Gender stereotypes and roles that had been erased during wartime were now reinforced once again as “Women were considered domestic caregivers… while men ‘brought home the bacon.”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A9 Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit AHighsmith incorporates the lingering social expectations associated with these roles such as the assumption that women would be financially dependent upon men as she notes that Therese will be “accepting most of the money from him(Richard)”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A2 for the trip. The unease felt within Therese at this notion is an expression of Highsmith’s rejection of the newly reinforced gender roles, as “women had achieved perhaps too much economic independence during World War 2″9 and as such the sudden dependence upon a man financially became “oppressive.”9 Highsmith explores the affect these societal expectations could have upon love as she ensures Therese feels tied financially and emotionally to Richard. In this way she reflects a way men could gain power due to their position in society. This love is destructive as it ensures the power dynamic is one-sided, men being both physically and financially dominant. Highsmith chooses to show this destructive force through the inclusion of a “familiar sense of guilt”2 within Therese, who grows increasingly unhappy with the possibility of dependence upon Richard. Browning also explores the negative affects that financial ties can have upon love within ‘Youth and Art.’ During the 19th century grooms were typically older than their brides. This was because “A young man needed to be able to show that he earned enough money to support a wife…before the girl’s father would give his permission.”5 Browning reflects this expectation and the importance of marrying well within ‘Youth and Art’ as the female speaker claims that her life and that of her old flame, a sculptor, are both “unfulfilled.”10 This is crucial as Browning depicts the two lovers following sensible paths that meet societies expectations, as she “married a rich old lord”10 and is praised for it, “people suppose me clever”10 and he is “dubbed knight and an R.A.”10 Yet despite achieving social and financial success the two lovers “have not sighed deep, laughed free, | Starved, feasted, despaired, – been happy.”10 Within these lines Browning is emphasising the negative affects of following social expectation or living for monetary gain, as it leads to the destruction not only of love, but is also detrimental to happiness as the two are inextricably linked. Love is finite and as the characters missed their opportunity they have “lost it for ever.”10 Therefore, both Browning and Highsmith explore the dangers to love associated with remaining in the confines of what is socially acceptable, but Browning continues this by stating that love itself becomes dangerous to an individual if it isn’t followed in favour of financial success. Resentment is built in ‘Carol’ between Therese and Richard, as Highsmith shows the differing desires  Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit Aof the two parties. Therese wishes to be free of a man she cannot love and Richard longs for “S girl like herself, with her face, her ambitions, but a girl who adored him.”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A2Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A Highsmith also shows this form of strained relationship between Carol and her estranged husband, Harge. Carol comments “It’s not love. It’s a compulsion”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A2Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A when questioned about Harge’s feelings towards her, showing that Highsmith has chosen for his feelings to appear genuine although they are founded on a desire to “control”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A2Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A her, preventing her own thoughts and intellectual freedom thus ensuring that she “never had an opinion on anything except his opinion.”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A2Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A Harge’s domination and dangerous obsession is shown by Highsmith in a number of ways, as Harge attempts to control Carol by threatening a court case over the custody of their daughter, ensuring “Carol has… been stalked by a detective hired by her husband to collect evidence of her Sapphic activities.”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A12 which he plans to use against her. Highsmith attempts to show how heterosexual love can also be dangerous and degrading whilst showing the consequences of homosexual love due to societies aversion to it, as “The best Carol could hope for was visitation rights at her husband’s whim, not even shared custody of her daughter, whom she loves…in order to be who she is and live with the woman she loves.”12 Browning also exhibits this form of obsessive love and need for power within males, as the narrator during ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ is shown to be desperate to claim all of Porphyria’s attention and affections, stating that he is unable to set her “struggling passion free | From pride, and vainer ties.”8 This implies that Porphyria is weak and unable to commit to him due to her ties to other people. Jealousy builds within her lover until he commits a crime of passion and murders Porphyria, “one long yellow string I wound | Three times her little throat around, | And strangled her. No pain felt she.”8 Within these lines Browning shows the extent of the lover’s obsession and the dangers of romantic love. During her entrance porphyria “kneeled”8 and “made the cheerless grate | Blaze up”8, taking care of her lover before removing her own “dripping cloak.”8 and thinking of herself. This confirms that she has feelings for her lover and that his affection isn’t requited, but this isn’t enough for him as he needs complete dominion over her until she is “mine, mine”8 belonging only to her lover. As such her own identity is removed, reflecting the society of the time as “Respectable women in Victorian England were either identified by marriage or by spinsterhood. Either way, their identity developed on the presence or absence of a man.”11 The insatiable need for control and power creates a volatile character who is “apparently sane and rational, yet compelled by sudden impulse to commit an atrocious act”1 which is incredibly dangerous for Porphyria, who doesn’t appear to be deserving of death as the readers aren’t informed of any particular transgressions she has committed other than being unable to “giver herself to me for ever.”8 Jealousy and passion causes the lover to murder Porphyria as he believes this is the only way he can grant her “darling one wish”8 showing his insanity as he believes the solution to her other engagements is to prevent her from having any other than himself through death. The obsessive and suffocating love Highsmith creates gradually becomes more dangerous, Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit Aparticularly when Highsmith shows Richard losing Therese to Carol. She creates a building desperation sparking an attempt to subdue Therese and gain control using emotional and physical manipulation, as Richard asks her questions “very sweetly”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A2Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A whilst “looking at her with that soft, inane smile that in memory now looked cruel, and unhealthy.”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A2Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A Highsmith contrasts the differing opinions of Richards smile as time progresses, changing it from sweet to unhealthy as the perspective changes. This mimics the perception of love within the relationships in the novel, as the unhealthy and dull perception Therese has is not shared by Richard, who looks upon her sweetly. Richard implies that Therese’s love for Carol is merely a “crush that schoolgirl’s get”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A2Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A and he begins “so frankly try(ing) to convince her she was unhealthy”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A2Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A for having feelings for Carol. This reflects the attitude of society at the time as Highsmith herself was forced to deny her own sexuality and publish ‘Carol’ under a pseudonym in fear of the backlash and condemnation she may receive. George Chauncey commented that many homosexuals were “Threatened with police raids, harassment and the loss of their jobs, families and reputations, most people hid their participation in gay life from their straight associates.”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A13Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A This was necessary because “this was the 1950s, and homosexuality was classified as a disease and a disorder”Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit A14 which Highsmith illustrates through Richard’s reaction to Therese’s love of Carol, exclaiming “Fall in love with a girl? Of course not! My God, you haven’t, have you?”2 This showcases disgust and disbelief at the mention of homosexuality, which threatened the lifestyle of the time. Kera Bolonik comments that “Though lesbians could more easily live in plain sight than men, they could have been imperilled for being perceived as “deviant” or “obscene” if witnessed by the wrong person.”12 Highsmith uses Richard to depict a version of the attitudes and opinions held by the general public, as even though she ensured Richard was enamoured with Therese this information still repulses him. Here Highsmith is showing the destructive influence society can have on the individual as Richard’s outburst causes a multitude of negative emotions within Therese “while a quick succession of emotions – humiliation, resentment, loathing of him – had made her speechless.”2 Browning shows the effects of jealousy and resentment as a result of love within ‘My Last Duchess’ during which the Duke “gave commands”6 for his wife to be killed due to her “approving speech, | Or blush”6 when dealing with other men, and her disposition as the Duke claims she was “too soon made glad, | Too easily impressed.”6 There is an implication that the Duchess was unfaithful and showed it with her amiable disposition, causing jealousy within the Duke. He wanted to control her actions, how she spoke to others, who she spoke to and even how she felt, yet discussing this with her would have been lowering himself to her level and “I choose | Never to stoop.”6 The jealousy and disgust that build within the Duke is highlighted as he resents her for ranking “My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name | With anybody’s gift.”6 Here Browning demonstrates that the Duke is using his wife as a tool to gain social status and a feeling of superiority, yet he is unable to fulfil this wish as she sees him as equal to his fellow man. The only way the Duke can truly gain dominance and power over his wife is through her death and objectification, as he “controls access to the late Duchess, who in this poem is only a painting, not a live woman.”11 The Duchess is related to merely a “possession, something the Duke once added to his collection of things to show off”11 as though she may have loved him, he loved only power and status, and their marriage was merely a way of achieving his ambitions.Nancy Smart, 13NH, Lit ABibliography: Subject and Power in “Porphyria’s Lover”, Jennifer Gribble, Volume 29 2003, https://openjournals.library.sydney.edu.au/index.php/SSE/article/view/570 , website -Sydney Studies in English (pdf)Carol, Patricia Highsmith, 1952, (pages vary)Two in the Campagna – Robert Browning Selected Poems, Robert Browning, 2004 edition, pages 136 – 138Poem of the week: Two in the Campagna by Robert Browning, Carol Rumens, 26 July 2010, www.theguardian.com , website – the guardianGender in the 19th Century, Kathryn Hughes, 15 May 2014, www.bl.uk, website – British LibraryMy Last Duchess – Robert Browning Selected Poems, Robert Browning, 2004 edition, pages 25 – 26″Gained Instead”: A Study of Power in Robert Browning’s “Porphyria’s Lover”, Stephanie M. McConnell, Volume 32 2009, concept.journals.villanova.edu, website – concept journalsPorphyria’s Lover – Robert Browning Selected Poems, Robert Browning, 2004 edition, pages 17 – 18The Ideal Woman, Jennifer Holt, unknown date, www.csustan.edu, website (pdf)Youth and Art – Robert Browning Selected Poems, Robert Browning, 2004 edition, pages 199 – 201The Feminine Voice and the Feminine Presence in Nineteenth-Century Poetry, Melissa E. Buron, 2003, www.victorianweb.org, website – Victorian WebNancy Smart, 13NH, Lit AThe Choice Carol Had to Make, Kera Bolonik, November 23 2015, https://newrepublican.com, website – New RepublicanA Gay World, Vibrant and Forgotten, George Chauncey, June 26 1994, www.nytimes.com, website – New York TimesPatricia Highsmith, Hiding in Plain Sight, Jeanette Winterson, December 16 2009, www.nytimes.com, website – The New York Times

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