Two Personalities in My Last Duchess
The poem "My Last Duchess" is about a powerful Duke, and his
beautiful, flirtatious wife who has two different personalities, one
that was reality and the other was the lady in the painting. The poem begins
and ends with him mourning the loss of his deceased Duchess, but from the
way that the mighty Duke speaks, he knows more about her death than he leads
us to believe. The Duke chooses his word very carefully, when he talks to
his friend about the painting of his wife. He only drops small hints, to his
friend about the death of his Duchess. Which leads me to believe that the
Duke killed his wife, or had someone to put her to her death.
As the Duke speaks of his Duchess, in the beginning, he sounds extremely
compassionate and caring towards her. The Duke had an absolute love for his
Duchess as most husbands and wives do. He sounded so proud of her and the
beauty that she posed: almost like she was a trophy. Despite all of the
pride and excitement that he showed towards her, there was an element of
distrust that lingered inside of his mind.
The Duchess created the element of distrust that was bestowed into the
marriage. The Duke explained that his wife was extremely flirtatious and
easily impressed. The Duke said, "Too easily impressed: she liked whate'er
she looked on, and her looks went everywhere." This line is telling about
the Duchess, as she was when she was alive. The Duke believes that his
Duchess is a cheat, and that she doesn't try to hide it either. A husband
can tell when his wife is interested in another man, cause she once looked
upon him in that way she is looking upon her new male interest. The Duchess
probably didn't know that her husband was watching her, while she was taking
interest to her lovers. She may have thought that she and her male interest at the time were alone,
cause not any woman, in that era would have been seen with another man
besides their husbands.
Given the fact that this poem dates back to the Duke and Duchess era, so
they lived in an old fashioned world. The Duke believes his wife is not
being faithful to him.
But back in this era you couldn't take her court, file for a divorce, or
even confront her other lovers. The royal family would kill their wives if
they were not being faithful or if they could not have a child.
To avoid these complications, the royal Duke killed his Duchess. It had to
be a hard decision to make, but back then it was probably more common.
Another common factor in this era was for men to have several wives. The
story ends with the Duke talking about a new wife in the soon to be future.
To live back in this day and time would have been frightening for a woman,
and especially if a Duke was interested in you. It would have been even more
terrifying, knowing that his wife had been murdered.
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