After scrutinizing the short story “The chrysanthemums” and the poem “My last duchess” several times, I’ve come up with worthy acquisition to support my findings of similarities and differences of the two. At a glance these two pieces seem to involve two different aspects of 2 specific women in them. In “The chrysanthemums” the woman, Elisa Allen is being described through the author’s eyeglasses. While in “My last duchess” the woman is depicted through a painting and introduced in an obsessively admiring manner through her husband.
However, as you gaze deeper into “The chrysanthemums” you begin to notice the lifestyle that Elisa Allen lives; through how the author describes the surroundings and area where she lives. As John Steinbeck puts it “The high grey-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from all the rest of the world. On every side it sat like a lid on the mountains and made of the great valley a closed pot. “, she seems to live a dull life protected from the experiences of life, and the only thing that she had the joy of was her chrysanthemums.
Then a stranger came and took a part of her, the chrysanthemums, with him. She was filled with joy thinking how a part of her would be planted somewhere else, and even though she had not traveled out of her town, her chrysanthemums would. Being the low self-esteemed person that she was disappointed, as she was going out to dinner with her husband because of deal he made, when she passed by the same road and saw her chrysanthemums on the side of the road. As she felt betrayed, she also felt confused and cried at the end like an old woman because of the simple, limited life she lived.
On the other hand, in “My last duchess”, the beauty is the woman in the painting is praised by her husband. Her beauty is described with a triumphant passion. The character in the story invites the readers to look at the painting of his beloved wife who passed away. He starts of admiring her, and while he keeps talking about her, his tone changes towards a prideful one. He describes his wife as an accomplishment, as a something that he has brought him attention and fortune.
He continues to describe as collectible, and proceeds into presenting his true image, an egotistical manipulative husband as he continues referring to her as “my duchess” instead of her name all the way until he ends the poem with “me” as if he was the important one in their relationship. At some point in the poem, as the reader you get the feeling as if his “love” drove him to killing her. Since he describes her as a something tangible that he’s proud of, his choice of words leads us to believe that she served her purpose and he must move on to the next duchess.
We can assume this from the first line of the poem that says “that’s my last duchess on the wall”. In conclusion, we see two women with 2 different characteristics, being described by two different points of views, by two different persons. In “The chrysanthemums” Elisa is being described an unsure, inexperience woman who towards the end longs for adventure. On the other hand, in “My last duchess” the woman is being described through a portrait, because she’s dead” by her husband in a materialistic manner.