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My Last Duchess

Essay by review  •  December 28, 2010  •  Essay  •  767 Words (4 Pages)  •  787 Views

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My Last Duchess In "My Last Duchess" by Robert Browning, we are introduced to the dramatic monologue. In a dramatic monologue, the speaker unknowingly reveals his personality through his speech. In this poem, the audience listens to a conversation between the Duke and a nameless envoy who are making the final arrangements for the Duke's second wedding. Strangely, the Duke brings out a portrait of his former wife whom he rambles incessantly about. Through the Duke's ramblings, we learn that he is a self-centered, arrogant, and completely chauvinistic man, asserting emotions of both power and weakness. The Duke is a materialistic, proud man. He has a high rank in nobility and a well-respected name. Thus, he tries to portray himself as powerful and sophisticated. But his underlying motives shine through and we see the Duke as jealous and possessive. The Duke was formerly married and this marriage ended tragically. His last Duchess had a wandering eye and a smile for everyone. This infuriated the Duke - "She smiled, no doubt, whene'er I passed her; but who passed without much the same smile?" (line 44). The Duke must have been a Leo because he always had to be in the spotlight, his pride injured when the attention was not there. He felt he should be the only one in his Duchess's life to cause her joy or any sort of emotion, really. "All and each would draw from her alike the approving speech, or blush at least. She thanked men - good! But thanked someone I know not how - as if she ranked my gift of a nine hundred year old name with anybody's gift,"(lines29-34). The Duke feels that he has made this woman. Who was she before he bestowed the almighty name on her? How dare she not show her full thanks! The Duke was like many men we see today - envious and completely ridiculous. Unfortunately for the Duchess, her innocent flirtations must have boiled the Duke over the edge. He could not talk to her about his feelings, "Even had you skill in speech - which I have not," (line 35). And even if he was able, he probably would not because this would injure his ego even more. Sure maybe she would listen, but now she knows she has the upperhand over the Duke. It is all a control issue with these two. "And if she let herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse - E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose to never stoop,"(lines 39-42). So he decides on a different plan. "I gave commands; then all smiles stopped together,"(line 45). From this statement, we

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