My Last Duches by Robert Browning Essay

My Last Duches by Robert Browning Essay

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There is seldom a more deeply rooted bond than that between an artist and his masterpiece. However, in the poem "My Last Duchess", written by Robert Browning, it is not, in fact, the artist that possesses this bond, but the owner of the artwork. This dramatic monologue seems to be a tragic love story at first; however, as the story progresses, is it revealed to the audience that the grief-stricken Duke may have had some issues with his blushing bride. While addressing a representative of his future fiancé’s father, the Duke relays his thoughts and feelings on the untimely demise of his former Duchess. The Duke is not remorseful over the death of his bride but is instead bitter that she did not fit his expectations of a perfect wife. This is displayed through his lack of grief, his sudden remarriage, and his use of symbolic language to reveal his inner feelings.
After the passing of a significant person the individuals who were close to the person generally take time to go through a grieving process in order to show respect for the dearly departed. The speaker in Browning’s poem should be doing the same, as the loss of a spouse is usually a traumatic experience. While he gives the façade of a loving and caring husband his attitude begs to differ, much like when the speaker says, “Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,/ Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without/ Much the same smile?” (43-45). The speaker seems to be grieving by remembering his Duchess’s wonderful smile but the smug tone that he speaks with quickly discredits his attempt at endearment. Instead of going through the normal stages of grief and remembering her fondly, his thoughts rapidly turn to bitterness because he felt that she gave the very same smile that should hav...


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...normal human being, this individual seems to have very few, if any, regrets about the whole situation. It can be argued that nearly every individual has some form of a conscience, or the ability to judge right from wrong, why then is it so difficult for some to display it? Perhaps harsh, sarcastic words and disrespect are the ways in which certain individuals display their grief, but if that is the case, can it even be called grief in the first place? By pushing away, or in this case getting rid of, someone who doesn’t seem to fit expectations, the issue at hand is fixed momentarily. However, it is evident that in the long run, nothing but strife has been accomplished, and nothing of actual value has been gained.



Works Cited

Browning, Robert. “My Last Duchess.” Backpack Literature. Ed. X.J. Kennedy, Dana Gioia. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2012. 387-388. Print.

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