The Arrogant Duke in Broning's My Last Duchess Essay

The Arrogant Duke in Broning's My Last Duchess Essay

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In Browning’s “My Last Duchess”, the speaker whom we discover to be the Duke and husband of the Duchess in question is an arrogant aristocrat. At first glance, it may seem that he is a grieving husband who is proud to show the portrait of his last wife, but the more that you hear him speak, the more his true personality is demonstrated. He is critical of his late wife and wants to ensure that his visitor understands that she was unworthy to be his Duchess.
In the first line, there is a hint of the Dukes personality for he uses the title of Duchess instead of her name or the word wife. This theme of objectivity continues as he states “That piece a wonder, now”. When talking in terms of a piece, one would think the work of art is the subject being discussed but by adding the word now it strongly suggests he is speaking of his wife. This is the beginning signs of the shallowness of his personality. He also uses the name of the artist twice at the beginning of this conversation. It would seem to imply either, that this is a name the visitor should recognize, or to deride the artist as he later hints at impropriety. Either option is used to elevate himself, through bragging of having a renowned artist do the painting or slandering of the artist for his part in the Duchess’ supposed behavior.
Another sign of his arrogance is that this is not just a portrait that can be moved or discarded, but is actually a painting on the wall. It would seem that only those of great wealth and standing would have a large mural or fresco painting. He clearly keeps it covered because he later states that he is the only one who moves the curtain; “But to myself they turned (since none puts by The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)”. Once again, de...


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... dowry will be disallowed;”.
Throughout this discourse it is clear that the Duke is pompous and arrogant, not to mention a murderer. He has belittled his past wife, he has bragged about his belongings, he has puffed out his chest with the family history, but one of his final statements cements his personality and character. He is speaking of the counts daughter, his potential, future wife, of whom he expects a hefty dowry, and states, “Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed At starting, is my object.”. The Duke sees women as objects, he believes them to be there for his enjoyment, as a possession, and should they disappoint him, he obviously has no issue of doing away with them – permanently.



Works Cited

Kenedy, X., Gioia, D. (2012) Backpack literature: an introduction to fiction, poetry, drama, and writing. Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ

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