My Last Duchess by Robert Browning Essay

My Last Duchess by Robert Browning Essay

Length: 2288 words (6.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

My Last Duchess by Robert Browning


In his poem “My Last Duchess”, Robert Browning gives his readers a complex picture of his two main characters. The Duke, who narrates the poem, is the most immediately present but Browning sets him up to ultimately lose the reader’s trust. The Duchess becomes the sympathetic character, a victim of foul play. It is through the various representations of the Duchess within the poem that we come to know both characters. The representations of the Duchess, which focus on her ever-present smile and easily satisfied nature, come in sharp contrast with the desperate, sputtering language of the Duke as he tries to tell their story on his own terms. This contrast is a manifestation of the Duke's frustration with his inability to control the Duchess and her nonchalant but near-total control over him.

The Duchess is first introduced as a painting hanging in the Duke’s gallery. The very form in which we meet her gives us an indication of both her passivity and her ability to persist, unchanged, in one mode of behavior. A painting has very little living communicative power, relying on the expressiveness of its subject at the time of painting. It is notable that no mention is made of any background or accompanying objects in the painting—often in portraiture these elements are relied upon to convey key ideas about the subject. It seems that the Duchess relied solely upon herself and the painter to tell her own story. Even if other objects are in the painting, they are unremarkable enough that neither Duke nor poet feels compelled to mention them. From a literary standpoint, this means that the poet felt that we needed no other initial information about the Duchess. Even at the level of chara...


... middle of paper ...


...haunts him, and by placing it both first and last he drives it home very strongly. He can’t help but repeat that phrase when confronted with the Duchess who is both still smiling and “as if alive”—he is driven mad by the idea that he couldn’t even succeed in killing her. His actions, too, are driven by the Duchess. Since she is still smiling and life-like, despite his best efforts to the contrary, he is driven to the irrational extreme of covering the painting and ensuring that “none puts by the curtain…but [himself]” (9-10) His extraordinary desire to control the Duchess leave him vulnerable to her imperviousness. By remaining unaffected by the Duke’s strenuous efforts to alter her behavior, the Duchess forces the Duke to take more and more drastic measures—like killing her and hiding her painting—and eats away at his ability to even keep control of himself.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about My Last Duchess By Robert Browning

- His Last Duchess Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess is a dramatic monologue narrated by the Duke of Ferrara Even a passing gaze to this poem would paint a picture of a selfish prick of a husband and a wife whose mere fault was naivete, someone who was merely appreciative of the beauty around her, a quality that bugged her husband to the point where he accuses her of being unfaithful and gets her killed. The narrator of the poem indicates an arrogance embedded so deep in a bold sense of male superiority....   [tags: Robert Browning, My Last Duchess]

Powerful Essays
1004 words (2.9 pages)

My Last Duchess By Robert Browning Essay

- My Last Duchess Robert Browning, a British poet, who was fascinated with poems at a young age. Most of Browning teaches came from his father, he was already proficient in reading and writing by the age of five. Browning was fluent in Spanish, Greek and French. He began writing poems after he dropped out of college, most of his work had dramatic monologue- especially the use of diction, rhymes, and symbols. In 1842 he published “ My Last Duchess” The speaker in the poem is believed to be Alfonso Il d’Este (1533-1598) who married fourteen year old Lucrezia di Cosimo de Medici at the age twenty five....   [tags: My Last Duchess, Robert Browning, Marriage]

Powerful Essays
726 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on Analysis Of The Poem ' My Last Duchess ' By Robert Browning

- In the poem “My Last Duchess,” Robert Browning writes about the story of the Duke of Ferrara. The Duke is giving a tour of his art collection in his estate to a servant of the family of his new prospective wife to be. When he gets to the painting of his previous wife, he begins to talk about how she was, how impressed she was with everything, how he didn’t like it, and indicates that he gets rid of her somehow. Browning uses language, voice, and style to portray this story. Browning uses two different language devices in this poem, simile and symbolism....   [tags: My Last Duchess, Robert Browning, Poetry]

Powerful Essays
737 words (2.1 pages)

Comparing My Last Duchess By Robert Browning Essay

- The purpose of this essay is to analyze and compare and contrast the two paired poems “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning and “My Ex-Husband” by Gabriel Spera to find the similarities presented within the pairs. Despite the monumental time difference between “My Last Duchess” and “My Ex-Husband”, throughout both poems you will see that somebody is wronged by someone they thought was a respectable person and this all comes about by viewing a painting on the wall or picture on a shelf. The themes within the poems are very parallel....   [tags: My Last Duchess, Robert Browning, Marriage]

Powerful Essays
1008 words (2.9 pages)

My Last Duchess by Robert Browning Essay

- My Last Duchess by Robert Browning In his poem “My Last Duchess”, Robert Browning gives his readers a complex picture of his two main characters. The Duke, who narrates the poem, is the most immediately present but Browning sets him up to ultimately lose the reader’s trust. The Duchess becomes the sympathetic character, a victim of foul play. It is through the various representations of the Duchess within the poem that we come to know both characters. The representations of the Duchess, which focus on her ever-present smile and easily satisfied nature, come in sharp contrast with the desperate, sputtering language of the Duke as he tries to tell their story on his own terms....   [tags: Last Duchess Robert Browning Essays]

Powerful Essays
2288 words (6.5 pages)

Analysis of My Last Duchess by Robert Browning Essay

- My Last Duchess by Robert Browning is a dramatic monologue about a duke who is showing the portrait of his first wife, the duchess, to a servant of his future father-in-law, the Count. In a dramatic monologue, the speaker addresses a distinct but silent audience. Through his speech, the speaker unintentionally reveals his own personality. As such, in reading this poem, the reader finds the duke to be self-centered, arrogant, controlling, chauvinistic and a very jealous man. The more he attempted to conceal these traits, however, the more they became evident....   [tags: Robert Browning, My Last Duchess]

Powerful Essays
1159 words (3.3 pages)

Analysis of My Last Duchess by Robert Browning Essay

- Analysis of My Last Duchess by Robert Browning Murder mystery intrigue. All describe Robert Browning's poem, 'My Last Duchess'. From the speaker's indirect allusions to the death of his wife the reader might easily think that the speaker committed a vengeful crime out of jealousy. His flowery speech confuses and disguises any possible motives, however, and the mystery is left unsolved. The poem is a great example of dramatic dialogue, a poetic form used to narrate and dramatize. It consists entirely of the words of a single speaker who reveals in his speech his own nature and the dramatic situation in which he finds himself....   [tags: Last Duchess Robert Browning Poem Poetry Essays]

Powerful Essays
1226 words (3.5 pages)

Analysis of My Last Duchess by Robert Browning Essay

- A dramatic monologue is a poem in which a single speaker who is not the poet recites the entire poem at a critical moment. The speaker has a listener within the poem, but the reader of the poem is also one of the speakers listeners. In a dramatic monologue, the reader learns about the speaker's character from what the speaker says. Robert Browning is said to have perfected this form of writing. One of his most famous dramatic monologues is "My Last Duchess." The speaker in the poem is an Italian duke who ordered the murder of his wife and is at the offset of the poem showing off the portrait to his future son-in-law....   [tags: Robert Browning, My Last Duchess]

Free Essays
576 words (1.6 pages)

Jealousy and Self-Love in My Last Duchess by Robert Browning Essay

- Robert Browning's dramatic poem "My Last Duchess" defines how extremely a person may lose touch with reality, as a result of jealousy and self-love.  This central thought is achieved through an aristocrat's conversation with a visitor concerning a painting of his ex-wife; within the conversation, the aristocrat--Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara--reveals that he has been a key figure in the murder of his late wife.  The Duke's sense of reality and his misuse of power stand as important facets within the fabrication of the central idea....   [tags: Robert Browning, My Last Duchess]

Powerful Essays
543 words (1.6 pages)

Robert Browning Poems: My Last Duchess and Porphyria's Lover Essay

- Robert Browning is one of the most celebrated poets of the Victorian age. His two poems I am working from, "My Last Duchess" and "Porphyria's Lover", are just samples of his eminent work. Browning wrote a range of monologues when living in Italy with his wife, Elizabeth Barret. Dramatic monologues are the basis of the essay. I will discuss whether (or not) each poem "creates a character who reveals himself in what he has to say". My Last Duchess is a monologue spoken by the Duke....   [tags: Robert Browning, My Last Duchess]

Powerful Essays
3771 words (10.8 pages)