Analysis of My Last Duchess by Robert Browning Essay

Analysis of My Last Duchess by Robert Browning Essay

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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. There is situational irony (a discrepancy between what the character believes and what the reader knows to be true) in this because the duke does not realize this is what is happening. Instead, he thinks he appears as a powerful and noble aristocrat.

Robert Browning, the poet, uses iambic pentameter throughout the poem. He breaks up the pattern so that every two lines rhyme. Aside from being a dramatic monologue, the poem is also considered lyric poetry because it is a poem that evokes emotion but does not tell a story. The poem is being told in the speaker's point-of-view about his first duchess, also as revealed in the title, The Last Duchess. The setting is important because the duke's attitude correlates to how men treated women at that time. The theme of the poem appears to be the duke's possessive love and his reflections on his life with the duchess, which ultimately brings about murder and his lack of conscience or remorse.

In the first several lines (1-8) of the poem , the duke is addressing an unknown listener. He only uses the pronoun "you" so it is never clear until the ending who the intended listener is. He begins by pointing out the portrait on the wall...


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...ding this poem, it is obvious to think that the Duke was definitely a cruel and heartless man. Assuming he had his first wife killed, he didn't seem to care. He just forged ahead in an attempt to find another woman he could control. As a matter of fact, he used his influence to actually warn the servant of his plans for his marriage to the Count's daughter. Instead of mourning his first wife, he seemed to revel in the fact that he was now able to control her beauty in the portrait by only allowing viewing to those he invited to see it when he opened the curtain. Oh, what a powerful feeling that must have been for him! In the 20th century, however, I think this poem would have been written differently to reflect the freedom women have today. No woman would have put up with him! Maybe the Duke would have had second thoughts about how he treated his beautiful Duchess.

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