Robert Browning's My Last Duchess Character Analysis

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Murder…mystery…intrigue…All describe Robert Browning's poem, "My Last Duchess." From the speakers indirect allusions to the death of his wife the reader might easily think that the speaker is a bit crazy and committed a vengeful crime out of jealousy. His flowery speech confuses and disguises any possible motives; however, the mystery is left unsolved. Based on the poem's style and structure, it becomes evident that even if the speaker did not directly kill his wife, he certainly had something to hide.

This poem 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 duke comes off as being very possessive. "Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,/ Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without/ much the same smile?" (43-45). I believe this being said, the duke is over examining things, the smile can simply come off as simply being a nice person, but to duke sees it in a different light. He views it as being flirtatious.

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. "I gave commands/ then all smiles stopped together" (45-46). These lines mean that the Duke, playing a very dominant part, tells his wife to stop smiling and flirting. Being told this, she still continues on, which I believe she does not notice or see herself as being flirtatious. As a result I 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.
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