Porphyria’s Lover by Robert Browning
            I propped her head up as before,
            Only, this time my shoulder bore
            Her head, which droops upon it still:
            The smiling rosy little head,
            So glad it has its utmost will,
            That all it scorned at once is fled,
            And I, its love, am gained instead!
            Porphyria's love: she guessed not how
            Her darling one wish would be heard.
            And thus we sit together now,
            And all night long we have not stirred,
            And yet God has not said a word! (49- 60) 

Throughout "Porphyria's Lover" Robert Browning describes a situation of a current relationship with both the male and female present. The poem shows us this incredible power struggle between the man and woman. The woman has power because this is her lover and the title gives her that possessiveness and power. She also has power through subtle position in the beginning like the man putting his head on her shoulder, so she is in the superior postition. The man is give a little power and freedom, but his ultimate power comes through seizing it. The man is allowed to play with the woman's hair and ultimately works this to put her in a compromising situation. He takes advantage of this opportunity to seize power by killing the woman so she will always stay his. Then she is like a doll in his hands and he positions her head on his should so he is in the superior position. The quotation above is when she is dead and he re-arranges her to his liking. She is described as very picturesque and similar to an ideal woman- beautiful and submissive. While he has achieved the ultimate level of power: getting away with murder. This sense of power comes through the last line when he says "and God has said nothing." God is the only one who is supposed to have power over life: choosing when people die, and not even God objects to this man seizing power over life.

 The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson 
                "Forward, the Light Brigade!"
                Was there a man dismayed?
                Not though the soldier knew
                                     Some one had blundered:
                Their's not to make reply,  
                Their's not to reason why,
                Their's but to do and die:  
                Into the valley of Death   
                                                  Rode the six hundred.    (9- 17)

 In Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade", we see a traditional male role as soldiers go out and fight for their country. These soldiers exemplify honor and duty and even a loyalty to their country and superiors because they are riding to their deaths. The poem explicitly says that it is not the role of a soldier to question orders, "their's not to make reply, /their's not to reason why, /their's but to do and die." That is the role of a soldier "to do and die". The responsibility of unnecessary death of soldiers lies upward in the chain of command. The person giving the orders was the "some one [who] blundered". So the poem is a political move for change. The poem almost demands instituting a check on those giving orders to soldiers so that more good soldiers do not die senselessly. This poem makes society consciously aware of the political flaws and needed change. 

The rhythm of the poem sounds like horses unceasingly galloping forward into battle. The end rhymes are skewed on the word "blundered"--it does not rhyme in the established pattern, but rhymes with the last line "hundred". This gives you the direct relationship between this blunder affecting the six hundred soldiers. Also, the three following parallel lines describing a soldier's duty flow well together and after we read it our attention reverts back to 'blundered' because it has not rhythmically been taken care of. So if you cut out those three lines the poem reads "Some one had blundered: /Into the valley of Death/ Rode the six hundred". This solidifies the correlation between the blunder and the impending doom upon the soldiers brought upon them by this blunder. The person responsible for giving those orders sent six hundred men directly into the "valley of Death".    

Cry of the Children by E.B. Browning
They look up with their pale and sunken faces,
And their looks are sad to see,
For the man’s hoary anguish draws and presses
Down the cheeks of infancy.
“Your old earth,” they say, “is very dreary;
Our young feet,” they say, “are very  weak!
Few paces have we taken, yet are weary--
Our grave rest is very far to seek.
Ask the aged why they weep, not the children;
For the outside earth is cold;
And we young ones stand without, in our
And the graves are for the old.   (25-37) 

Cry of the Children speaks out against child labor. Children are sent to work to help support the family. You can see the desperation of these children through their "pale and sunken faces" and sad looks. The sunken in faces of children equate to malnutrition- the children are not getting enough to eat. This hinders their growth and forces them into the workplace at an even younger age: represented by "the cheeks of infancy." The poem then moves to contrast the young with the old- the children with the earth and death. The earth is hard and unforgiving--the "earth is cold." The earth has lived a very long life and seen plenty of human experience, so we don't ask why the children weep because we need to prepare them for the harsh elements of life. The children are also forced to work long hours and are being driven to their grave. Although their "grave rest is very far to seek" the children long for that rest from work that only comes with death.  At the end of this stanza it is said that "graves are for the old", yet in the next stanza we learn of a child that met her death early because of this hard labor. 

Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
            This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
            To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle--
            Well-loved of men, discerning to fulfil
            This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
            A rugged people, and through soft degrees
            Subdue them to the useful and the good.
            Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
            Of common duties, decent not to fail
            In offices of tenderness, and pay
            Meet adoration to my household gods,
            When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

Ulysses by Tennyson outlines two male roles that  are socially acceptable. The father feels uncomfortable at home because his role is an adventurer, explorer, and fighter. This was a common role for Great Britain men because the vast number of colonies and vast amount of land they owned. Men were charged with exploration and going to claim land for the glory of the empire. The son's rule is to stay at home and rule the land. There is a lot of tension about the son's duty because it is written in a feminine way. You do not often think of men subduing people "through soft degrees" and dealing with "offices of tenderness". It is a feminine role to stay at home and take care of things while the father is gone. However, ruling is an accepted male duty and role. Looking at the monarchy it is very traditional for men to rule the country. Queen Victoria even said that ruling was a man's job. She was very supportive and submissive to his will. Although a domestic ruling role is not typical for a male, Ulysses expands and questions what roles are socially acceptable for men.  

An Apple-Gathering by Christina Rossetti
            I plucked pink blossoms from mine apple tree
            And wore them all that evening in my hair:
            Then in due season when I went to see
            I found no apples there.

            With dangling basket all along the grass
            As I had come I went the selfsame track:
            My neighbours mocked me while they saw me pass
            So empty-handed back.   (1-8)

This poem has a very simple rhyme scheme. In the beginning of the poem, the narrator takes blossoms from a tree to make herself beautiful. However, she did not think through the consequences and did not have any apples because she had picked all the blossoms. The rhyme scheme shows the same simplicity the narrator does. This poem shows a shift in feminine values. As the ideal woman comes from the upper class beauty is more valued than production. However, as the middle class emerges the ideal woman needs to be able to function without so many servants- she needs to be able to produce. This poem reflects this shift in values of femininity. The narrator also returns to her house the way she had come, in her own "selfsame track". The implication that the narrator carved her own path and picked the blossoms herself, condemn her to failure by her own hand. Women in society subject themselves to men and often condemn their own paths as they allow men to judge the value of women.    

A Christmas Carol by Dickens
            "God bless us every one!" said Tiny Time, the last of all.
            He sat very close to his father's side, upon his little stool. Bob held his withered little hand in his, as if he loved the child, and wished to keep him by his side, and dreaded that he might be taken from him.
            "Spirit," said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, "tell me if Tiny Tim will live."
            "I see a vacant seat," replied the Ghost, "in the poor chimney corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, the child will die."
            "No, no," said Scrooge, "Oh no, kind Spirit say he will be spared." 

I believe this is the turning point for Scrooge and pointedly talks about poverty. Tiny Tim is not able to get the proper treatment he needs because he lives in a poverty family. The family works hard, but does not make enough to help Tiny Tim. We also see a turning point in Scrooge because he yearns for another's life. Earlier in the story he says that the poor should just hurry up and die so there will be more room. However, now we see this hard working poor family trying to make ends meet without having enough. Scrooge has a strong connection to this family because he provides the sparse income they live on. You see the humanization of Scrooge when he is overcome with "an interest he had never felt before"- an interest in a poor person's well being. It isn't until he notes the love of the father (Scrooge's employee) towards Tiny Tim that Scrooge asks about Tiny Tim's future. It is love that moves Scrooge towards change and softens his heart towards the family that works so hard. This book is written as a commentary about the poor and how those with wealth to spare, like Scrooge, should help the poor in whatever ways they can. That is the epiphany and change of heart that Scrooge undergoes. There is a careful trend to only help the poor who are hard-working and not the poor that don't have a job and just live off society.   

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