Robert Browning's My Last Duchess Character Analysis

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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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." (23-24). 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, because 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, because not any woman, in that era would have been seen with another man besides their husbands.
I believe that the main character can be described with many different adjectives. He is talkative, polite, arrogant, and obsessive. The wife can be described as being a flirt, friendly, happy, and a people person. I think it really depends on how you want to interpret the poem. The poem is filled with many mysteries and unsaid things. The speech the Duke gives is a very confusing one, because he uses words to suggest that he is innocent. He never mentions that he actually killed his wife, but he only provides small clues to suggest that.



Work Cited
Browning, Robert. "My Last Duchess." Literature: A Pocket Anthology. 2nd ed. Ed. R.S. Gwynn. New York: Pearson Langman, 2005. 530-532
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