‘My Last Duchess’, written by Robert Browning and ‘The Tyger’, written by William Blake both explore the theme of evil. The poem ‘My Last Duchess’ is also a monologue, directed to an envoy, that talks about the Duke of Ferrara fabricating his own story about what happened to his last Duchess. Instead, in ‘The Tyger’ the animal is presented in a way to show a deeper, and perhaps darker, side of the animal kingdom. The two poems explore the theme by using form, structure, and language.
‘My Last Duchess’ involves rhyming pentameter lines. The lines do not employ end-stops; rather, they use enjambment. Consequently, the rhymes do not create a sense of closure when they come, but rather remain a subtle driving force behind the Duke’s compulsive revelations. So, they help to get across the Duke’s evilness. Whereas, the poem ‘The Tyger’ is comprised of six quatrains in rhymed couplets. The meter is regular and rhythmic, and its hammering beat suggests the blacksmith working, that is the poem’s central image. The simplicity and neat proportions of the poems form perfectly suit its regular structure, however, the fierceness and strength of the tiger contrast this.
First of all, evil takes different forms when it comes to the poems. In ‘My Last Duchess’ evil takes a human form, the Duke. At first, the reader may not understand this malicious side of the Duke, however, due to the subtle details that the writer leaves us, for example, “I gave commands; Then all the smiles stopped” shows he wants to have control over everything and everyone, and also he manages to manipulate a person in order to obtain what he wants. Then, another aspect of the monologue that clearly conveys a sense of evilness in the Duke is when he criticizes the Duchess’s qualities. For example, by saying that she was “too easily impressed” and “her looks went everywhere” and this confers his jealousy towards what the Duke might look as being simple courtesies that his wife had to do to show she was well-mannered. In addition, the fact that the Duke was the one who “gave commands” to murder his wife shows his sociopathic aspect and simply how mad he was. On the other hand, ‘The Tyger’ presents evil in a symbolic form, using the nature of the tiger. We understand this because of the speaker making many rhetorical questions
Another way evil is represented in both ‘My Last Duchess’ and ‘Tyger’ is through status/power. This is especially depicted in the poem ‘My Last Duchess’ as the Duke ‘gave orders’ for her smiling to stop, which strongly implies that he had ordered for her to be killed, the Duke evidently doesn’t comprehend the gravity of what he had just done because his status allows him to not handle these things in the first person. This represents a sense of depravity because he is almost unaffected by this and recognizes this as something normal, linking to the idea of being a psychopath. In the poem ‘tyger’ it’s essentially representing evil through the ‘higher power’ which created the ‘tyger’.