Iceberg Effect in “My Last Duchess” and “Hills like White Elephants”

Iceberg Effect in “My Last Duchess” and “Hills like White Elephants”

For a large figure of people populating in the 21stcentury the institute of matrimony means nil more than a relic from the old era. Young people do non travel rapidly to take societal, economic, or legal duties. They openly confess that matrimony is merely a manner of cohabitation of people in society, and that it is outdated, unneeded and restricting their freedom. Furthermore, they make bold premises that in the nearest future matrimony will discontinue in its being. The hereafter of matrimony is considered to be really dull. The hereafter of love that was considered by many coevalss to be a serious and by far the most of import ground of binding a household knot is non better. It is true that for many centuries love was treated as a cherished gift that could be described and decently evaluated merely by the creative persons and philosophers. Merely poets and authors were able to roll up all the experience of the world and reflect it in their plants. As a consequence, universe literature contains 1000s of chef-d’oeuvres dedicated to the subject of love, matrimony and gender functions. Most of them are really romantic and describe ideal relationships between lovers. They are Utopian in their character and remind beautiful images in the household albums. However, there are other plants. They could be easy compared with icebergs because they hide deep significance and the truth of life behind a simple secret plan. Such plants describe non merely pleasant sides of matrimony but besides unwrap negative sides of romantic relationships. “My Last Duchess” created by Robert Browning and “Hills like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway decidedly belong to such plants. These two plants being different in their signifier and content portion many common characteristics. “My Last Duchess” and “Hills like White Elephants” are united non merely by the common subject, they are united by the artistic method, chiefly by the iceberg consequence applied by their writers.

“My Last Duchess” is one of best plants of Robert Browning, dedicated to knocking improper values of nobility. On the illustration of Duke Ferrara, the poet discloses immorality of this category and an insatiate thriving for power, money, ownership and control over the people. The verse form is based on existent events, viz. on the incidents in the life of Alfonso II, the Duke of Ferrara in Italy. The duke’s first married woman, Lucrezia, died in 1561, after they had been married for less than three old ages. The critics province that the verse form was inspired by several historic facts of slayings taking topographic point in Renaissance Italy, “Since Browning was making a fabricated character instead than describing a existent happening, it is likely that remembrances of all three cases mingled in his head, and justified the feeling that he was portraying a typical duke behaving in a typical manner” ( Stevenson, 1959, p.489 ) . Though now it is impossible to turn out that the adult female was killed by her hubby, Robert Browning used this narrative as a background of his verse form. In the verse form the writer reveals the dismaying narrative of the slaying of the Duke’s old married woman through the conversation with the agent. The Duke is the talker of the verse form. He is entertaining an agent who has come to hold about the Duke’s following matrimony with another lovely miss. During their conversation the Duke and the agent halt near the portrayal of the Duchess, made by a celebrated creative person. The Duke tells about the picture alongside with the noticing on his wife’s character and her sad life narrative. The Duke attempts to show himself as a lovingness and loving hubby. He tries to look as a injury and abused individual, who had no pick but to slay his prideful and disrespectful married woman. The chief wickedness of the hapless adult female was her ability to bask simple things in life: “She had / A heart—how shall I state? —/ Too shortly made sword lily, / Too easy impressed ; she liked whate’er/ She looked on, and her expressions went everywhere.” ( Browning, 21-24 ) . Unlike her hubby, she was able to appreciate nature and people: “the dropping of the daytime in the West” ; “the bough of cherries” ; “the white mule”- such things made her happy but it irritated her hubby who was able to appreciate merely material things with a definite monetary value. Most of all the Duke was irritated by the fact that “all and each/ Would draw from her alike the address, / Or bloom, at least…” ( Browning, 1842 ) , this was her inappropriate behaviour, the woman’s deficiency of gratitude for the Duke’s baronial name was even more iniquitous. He underlines it in his address “She thanked work forces, —good! / But thanked…as if she ranked/ My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name / With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame/ This kind of piddling? ” ( Browning,1842 ) . These words of the Duke unwrap his existent nature. He is a dictator ; he is filled with false and pretended household pride. He wants to command everything and everybody, so he is glad that now his married woman is merely a portrayal on the wall and he can cover it anytime he wants “There she stands as if alive” ( Browning, 1842 ) and “none puts by/ The drape I have drawn for you, but I” ( Browning,1842 ) . He drops the confession about his engagement in her decease as if it is a trifle, one more of his caprices “This grew ; I gave bids ; / Then all smilings stopped together.” ( Browning, 1842 ) .

The Duke’s desire for control is made apparent even by the construction of the verse form. By its construction the verse form is frequently called a “dramatic monologue” ( MacMahon, 1996, p.209 ) . The frequent usage of caesura throughout the verse form emphasizes the Duke’s control over the conversation. He is insatiate in its desire to possess, to possess everything get downing from a portrayal or a statue up and to a person’s life. “My Last Duchess” is a verse form with a complicated construction ; it comprises iambic pentameter AABB pairs. Written in 1842 it is a great illustration of dramatic duologue, a poetic signifier used to narrate and dramatise concerns of the Victorian era. It besides has a broken beat, sentences and other grammatical units do non complete at the terminal of lines, so the verse form is hard to understand. To hold on the chief thought a reader has to be involved into the verse form and its ambiance. Since a reader gets merely the Duke’s thoughts and contemplations, it is instead difficult to unify the parts of his narrative into an incorporate narrative. This is done on intent, because Browning forces his reader to believe and to analyse, non merely bask the beauty of the poetic words, due to this the verse form remains existent even so many old ages after being written. Harmonizing to MacMahon ( 1996 ) “The reader is improbable to do a full reading of this really complex verse form on first reading, and will hold to maintain re-reading subdivisions, possibly on different occasions, so that the interpretive hypotheses and the concluding message remain cognitively active for longer than they would in direct communication” ( p. 217 ) . Alongside with a complicated poetic construction, this work of Browning contains a existent enigma that keeps readers in tenseness. This enigma is the destiny of the Duchess. The verse form does non hold a definite reply and merely a careful reader can retrace the events of her short and unhappy life. The critics point out that “Nowhere else in Browning’s work is at that place a better case of his ability to excite the reader’s imaginativeness with a few deep phrases. What really happened to the Duchess is conveyed in the infinite between the words “together” and “There.” Any expressed statement about her day of reckoning would hold been far less dismaying than this chilly hint” ( Stevenson, 1959, p.490 ) . There can be assorted hypotheses refering the life and decease of Duchess ; nevertheless it is clear that under the complicated construction of the verse form the writer fells such things as entire control, absolutism and favoritism of adult females. The Duchess was punished for her natural beauty and gender. Her hubby was a dictator who gave orders even in his household. When he faced the things that were out of his control, he got annoyed and destroyed them. The Duchess became a victim of an absolute power of work forces. In order to escalate this thought the writer creates a crisp contrast between a beautiful linguistic communication and a atrocious offense representing the secret plan of the verse form.

Merely like “My Last Duchess” the short narrative “Hills like White Elephants” is an illustration of an iceberg narrative that hides a immense life play behind a insouciant conversation of two people waiting for a train in a little cafe . “Hills like White Elephants” is a narrative about the terminal of love and abortion in this instance serves as a powerful symbol stressing the terminal of the relationships. The secret plan of this short narrative is instead simple and it goes about a adult male, as he is called in the narrative “the American, ” who persuades his girlfriend called “Jig” to do an abortion—“ It’s truly an terribly simple operation, Jig, ’ the adult male said. ‘It’s non truly an operation at all” ( Hemingway, 1927 ) . Though it is non clearly indicated that precisely this operation is meant, a reader can think it from bright symbols employed by the writer. It is besides obvious that the dealingss between chief characters have lost their passion because we see two people, who do non listen to each other and do non understand each other. The lone thing that can potentially unify them is a kid but he will non be born. It is obvious from the text that gestation can non do people closer and therefore it can non be considered to be a good ground for the continuance of their dealingss. The secret plan of the narrative is developing in such a manner that the word “ abortion ” is non pronounced. The manner of the great author, as the submerged portion of the iceberg, hides non merely the word “ abortion ” , but besides the fright of a immature miss. Jig is urgently seeking to acquire some warrants that the adult male will stay with her and that their love narrative will go on, “’Then what will we make afterwards? ‘ ‘We ‘ll be all right afterwards. Merely like we were earlier. ‘ ‘What makes you believe so? ‘ ‘That’s the lone thing that bothers us. It’s the lone thing that’s made us unhappy ‘ ( Hemingway, 1927 ) . The dream of the kid is inextricably linked to her dream of felicity and household life. In order to bespeak it, the writer skilfully draws whitening hills in the Sun, burnt pitilessly by searing Sun, the Earth and the green Fieldss, tree-lined shores of rivers and traveling shadows of the clouds. These images are full of contrasting functional significance. They demonstrate the passage of Jig’s province which becomes similar to the adust Earth. Initially, a comparing of the hills with white elephants admires the miss. Then this image appears one time once more but it brings the notes of painful uncertainty. In the concluding portion of the narrative white elephants appear once more, but the miss sees merely the dry side of the vale. The landscape is deprived of colourss deceasing colourss because they fade merely like her dreams about felicity. The determination to kill her unborn kid prompted so smartly by her lover means the terminal of all dreams. There is the perceptual experience of nonsense, absurdness, emptiness of life, and awful religious poorness. These feelings pierce the whole narrative and its construction merely contributes to the creative activity of this ambiance. It should be mentioned that the hopelessness of the state of affairs is emphasized by the rubric of the narrative. The phrase “white elephant” is used to denote a onerous nowadays. It indicates the present 1 does non cognize how get rid of.

While noticing about the construction and signifier of this work, the research workers indicate that it is a “dramatic dialogue” ( Smiley, 1988, p.2 ) . This signifier contributes to the revelation of the psychological provinces of the chief characters. The adult male remains stable and he is non altering in the procedure of narrative developing. He tries to carry the adult female to do an abortion and promises that he will non abandon her. It is obvious that he is non sincere and he does non care about his former lover any longer. At the same Jig undergoes several phases of her development. At first she is “a stereotyped inactive female, non even cognizing her ain head, accustomed to following a consummate male for her way in life” ( Renner, 1995, p. 28 ) . Then she starts to recognize her dreams. During the following phase she asserts herself, and eventually she makes a determination that contradicts the desires of her male comrade.

Hemingway remains faithful to his minimalistic manner in this short narrative. This work is based on duologue combined with short descriptions. The descriptions are full of symbols and are used by the writer to unwrap psychological provinces of the characters and to bode the development of the events. The narrative has an unfastened stoping and due to it every reader can come to his or her decisions. One more interesting characteristic of this narrative is its being symmetrical. As the research workers point out “The narrative is about absolutely symmetrical. In its first subdivision, the scene is established in the narrative, presenting “this” bare half of the vale… The 2nd subdivision of the narrative, like the first, begins with a description of puting ( now, of the other, fertile side of the vale ) . Many of the elements present in the first subdivision are repeated in the 2nd, but with the active functions reversed” ( Goodheart, 2010, p. 118 ) . The linguistic communication is minimalistic every bit good. Sentences are egg-shaped, they are short and crisp. Their chief intent is to escalate the thought about the deficiency of communicating between the characters. The American and Jig are speaking all the clip but they do non understand each other’s feelings. Such manner of composing contributes to the creative activity of tense ambiance predominating in this short narrative and besides contributes to the creative activity of iceberg consequence because all the of import information is hidden behind simple conversations of the characters.

In decision we would wish to stress that iceberg consequence critics normally ascribe to Ernest Hemingway’s works. However, in our sentiment, there are other literary plants that can be besides characterized as 1s based on implicitness and therefore holding an iceberg consequence. “My Last Duchess” by Browning is one of them. Actually, “My Last Duchess” and “Hills like White Elephants” are works that have many things in common even despite crisp differences in signifier and manner. It is true that the first work is a verse form, while the other 1 is a short narrative. Robert Browning’s manner of composing can barely be compared with the one typical for Ernest Hemingway. Robert Browning is a maestro of the poetic word and a particular rime while Ernest Hemingway is a maestro of minimal art who manages to make a powerful image utilizing lower limit of lexical units. Still, even despite the differences these two plants are united by the common subjects and common jobs so skilfully described by the writers. The first subject that unites both of these artistic plants is the topographic point of a adult female in household dealingss. In both plants we see adult females who are discriminated and oppressed. The Duke thrives for a entire control of his married woman and this entire control finally brings her to decease. The American besides dominates in the dealingss and attempts to enforce his will in a really common but yet so hard state of affairs. He wants his girlfriend to do an abortion but he has no will even to name this operation by its name. So, in both of these plants adult females are depicted as disempowered victims even despite the fact the actions take topographic point in different states and there is about a century between them. It is true that in Hemingway’s narrative the adult female is germinating, she eventually starts to asseverate her desires and dreams but we can barely state that this procedure is completed. The following subject that is touched by both writers is the subject of offense and place force. In instance of “My Last Duchess” this offense is a slaying which is kept in secret. In “Hills like White Elephants” this is offense is an abortion which is besides rather truly can be called a merciless offense. Both of the plants clearly hint that place force can hold different signifiers of its manifestation. It can be physical or psychological favoritism but in male controlled universe it decidedly takes topographic point in many dealingss. Finally, both of these plants can be called “icebergs.” These are works that need careful reading because they hide a immense sum of information behind a simple secret plan. These are plants in which implicitness is the chief agent and which need an extra research of the background information to be decently understood. So, these are works that make readers believe and this is by far their most of import characteristic.



Goodheart, E. ( 2010 ) . Critical penetrations, Ernest Hemingway ( 1st ed. ) . Pasadena, Calif. : Salem Press.

Hemingway, E. ( 1927 ) . Hills like white elephants.The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, 211-14.

MacMahon, B. ( 1996 ) . Indirectness, rhetoric and interpretive usage: communicative schemes in Browning ‘s My Last Duchess. Language And Literature, 5 ( 3 ) , 209-223. doi:10.1177/096394709600500305, . ( 2014 ) . My Last Duchess. Retrieved 26 September 2014, from hypertext transfer protocol: //

Renner, S. ( 1995 ) . Traveling to the Girl’s Side of ‘Hills Like White Elephants.’The Hemingway Review,15( 1 ) , 27-41.

Smiley, P. ( 1988 ) . Gender-Linked Miscommunication in ‘Hills Like White Elephants ‘ .Hemingway Review,8( 1 ) , 2-11.

Stevenson, L. ( 1959 ) . “ My Last Duchess ” and Parisina. Modern Language Notes, 74 ( 6 ) , 489-492. doi:10.2307/3040592

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