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Browning Robert uses his poems to exemplify violence against women in the society in many instances. It is driven by the need to show the poor treatment accorded to women by their men in the society. In essence, Browning intends to show the reader how the protection role that men are essentially supposed to play is instead used to perpetuate potentially inhuman acts. Indeed, Browning’s poems remain a strong reflection of the natural order existing in the society in which men are revered while women are treated as objects. In essence, the symbolism expressed with regard to violence portrays the submissive nature of women, the objectification of women, self - gratification of men, the non- replaceable nature of women, and the deep jealousy directed towards women in the society.
First, the use of violence in Browning’s poems has been used to illustrate the submissive nature of women. Browning’s intention is to show how women are dedicated to performing certain acts and duties without even complaining. His poems show how women have a limited capacity to neither express their concerns nor air their grievances at any given time; however, they still look at things with a positive mind. It is evident in Porphyria’s lover where Browning remarks “And, last, she sat down by my side, and called me. When no voice replied, she put my arm about her waist, and made her smooth white shoulder bare.” In this instance, despite the fact, that the woman came in from outside and was drenched and cold, she tried to call the man, but he appeared less concerned even though, we perceive, that his perception of the ongoing events was relatively clear.
Secondly, the use of violence in Browning’s poem is a symbolic illustration of the manner in which women are treated as mere objects or property. In Browning’s perspective, women are always supposed to serve their men regardless of the circumstance or situation. This implies that men do not necessarily need to consider the context of events by showing concern over their welfare. In Porphyria’s lover, Browning remarks “Murmuring how she loved me – she, too weak, for all her heart’s endeavor, to set its struggling passion free, from pride, and vainer ties dissever, and give herself to me forever.” This instance reveals the typical manner in which women’s feelings are not considered as having any impact, almost like a lifeless objects, women are supposed to be used for purposes of pleasure and passion. By referring women as “too weak”, thus further strengthens the notion that women are rarely considered as capable of making meaningful contributions.
Thirdly, Browning uses violence to symbolize the self - gratification of men against women. In Browning’s world, women are supposed to gratify men by lowering their ego to the lowest level possible. In fact, Browning insinuates that women are always supposed to groom the ego of their men. It is evident in Porphyria’s lover, where Browning remarks “Be sure I looked up at her eyes, happy and proud; at last I knew Porphyria worshipped me; surprise.” This instance reveals how men expect to be given a similar treatment like the Deity. These lines are intended to show how men are extremely superior to their women to the extent that they perceive themselves as having hidden divine potential. This act seriously undermines the existence of women as mere mortal beings, which is contrary to the status accorded to men.
Fourthly, the use of violence against women has been used by Browning to symbolize the inhuman nature of the men in society. The normal expectation between spouses is believed to be a mutual respect and affection between them. However, men tend to be very detached from the realities affecting their lovers. They lack some remorse and guilt for the actions that they commit against their women. This aspect can be demonstrated in Porphyria’s lover where Browning remarks “And all night long we have not stirred, and yet God has not said a word.” This instance reveals the lack of remorseful or emotional attachment to the extent when the man praises some action justifying it by the Deity’s presence. Here the writer suggests that the Deity is a man; hence, he understands or silently supports the actions committed by the man.
Fifthly, violence has been used by Browning to symbolize the irreplaceable nature of women. The common perception is that women are replaceable; however, because of their personality and charm, their memories linger on in men’s world for a significant period of time. In My Last Duchess, Browning asserts that “her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse”. In this instance, we picture the manner in which the duke actually reveres the duchess and most likely regrets his action of eliminating her. In essence, her portrait remains as a painful reminder of the inhuman treatment that the duke accorded to her; however, there is still some element of lack of remorse.
Sixthly, Browning uses violence events perpetrated against women to symbolize the immoral nature of women and the justification for their punishment. In Browning’s world, women hold the key to their natural desires; hence, they are the ones to control their bodily desires and resist sexual temptations. In this regard, Browning seems to overlook the fact that there are men actually who pursue women for the sexual favors; hence, the punitive measure discharged on the duchess does not seem to be justified. In the poem, Browning remarks “she rode with round the terrace – all and each would draw from her alike the approving speech, or blush, at least. She thanked men, - good! But thanked somehow – I know not how, as if she ranked my gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name”. This instance reveals the infidelity of women in the society.
Seventhly, the violence committed against women in Browning’s poem symbolizes the jealous and insecurity that men tend to have whenever they are in relationships. Despite the mutual closeness, men still find it extremely difficult to trust their women in the best way possible. Browning reveals how jealousy over a woman can drive a man to commit the worst atrocities like murder. In My Last Duchess, Browning remarks, “Even then would some stooping; and I choose never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt, whenever I passed her; but who passed without much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands; then all smiles stopped all together. There she stands as if alive”. This instance shows how a simple act of jealousy resulted in the death of the duchess. Indeed, it is ridiculous that the duke could not stand the duchess smiling at other men. These words point out to the existence of suspicion among men concerning their women, which implies that men do not trust women.
Finally, it is obvious that symbolism strongly portrays the submissive nature of women, the objectification of women, self - gratification of men, the non -replaceable nature of women, and the deep jealousy directed towards women in the society. In Browning’s perspective, these aspects continue affecting men and influence them to act the way they do. Therefore, Browning successfully brings the potentially hidden cruel nature of men into light, which justifies the patriarchal nature of our society.