updocs.net my-last-duchess-analysis

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In the opening line, the Duke states plainly that the pain ting is of his 'last Duchess'.
His comment in the second line that she is 'looking as if she were alive' gives the impression
that this is a masterpiece, but as we read on we realize that there is a more sinister meaning
to this phrase. The artist referred to, Fra Pandolf, is a fictional one. The Duke explains that
he is the only one who shows off the portrait by drawing back the curtains that normally
cover it. Everyone who sees it comments on the 'depth and passion' in the facial expression
of the Duchess, and wonders what the reason for it was. The Duke refers to her expression
as a 'spot of joy', and we begin to understand his attitude as he tells the envoy that he was
not the cause of it: the artist was. The Duke imagines the compliments that Fra Pandol f
might have paid to the Duchess as he was painting: 'Paint/Must never hope to reproduce the
faint/Half -flush that dies along her throat.' It i cs clear that the Duke disapproved of his wife's
reactions to such remarks, as he says that she was 'too soon mad e glad'.
The Duke's comment that 'her looks went everywhere' (line 24) suggests that he
could not tolerate the fact that the Duchess delighted in beauty and appreciated gifts from
others. He recalls that she considered his 'favour at her breast' no more i mportant than the
setting of the sun or a present of cherries from the orchard. He admits that she was right to
thank people for gifts, but resents the fact that she did not seem value his gift to her, his
'nine-hundred-years-old name' above anything else.
On two occasions the Duke mentions the idea of stooping to explain to his former
wife what it was that displeased him about her (lines 34 and 42 -43). This clearly shows that
he considered himself to be far above her. His language is very direct when he t ells the
envoy that he might have said to her 'Just this/or that in you disgusts me'. Again, in lines 39 40, the Duke refers to how the Duchess might 'let/herself be lessoned', leaving us in no
doubt as to his attitude towards her. She is seen as an inferi or being that would need to be
taught how to behave, almost like an unruly child. He admits that she smiled when she saw
him, but comments that she did the same to everyone she saw. As this went on, the Duke
could no longer bear her behavior and 'gave comm ands;/Then all smiles stopped together'
(lines 45-46). It soon becomes obvious that the Duchess did not merely cease to smile, but
ceased to live: the Duke's orders had been to kill her. Once more he says 'There she
stands/As if alive', and we are in no do ubt this time that she is no longer alive.
The Duke's comments on his former wife are over and he asks the envoy to come
downstairs with him. Only at this point is the purpose of the envoy's visit made clear: the
Duke wishes to marry the Count's daughter, and the dowry is being discussed. Before they
leave the upstairs room, however, the Duke draws the envoy's attention to another painting.
This one, again by a fictional artist (Claus of Innsbruck) depicts Neptune 'Taming a sea horse'. There seems to be a clear parallel here with the concept of the Duke 'taming' his last
Duchess.
Browning's use of the dramatic monologue is of course ideal for emphasizing the
Duke's dominant role in this situation. His is the only voice we hear, and his view of his
relationship with his former wife is the one we are given. Our impression of the Duke is one
of arrogance, intolerance, jealousy and cruelty. Does a wife who has looked at others and
been generous with her thanks deserve to die? We are told (line 31) that on some occasions
she merely blushed on meeting people when she went out for a ride; this would seem to
suggest shyness and modesty. She appears to have been a lady who felt it right to express
gratitude or smile in a friendly way, and we are left with the feeling that the Duke was a
proud and ruthless man who over -reacted to his wife's charming manner.
Browning has composed his poem in rhyming couplets with iambic pentameter (ten
syllables to a line, with stressed and unstressed syllables alternating). The use of
enjambement, where one line flows into the next without a period, gives a more natural,
conversational feel to the poem. Without this, the use of rhyme might have seemed a little
too contrived. The poem is virtually devoid of metaphors and similes: as the Duke tells the
envoy, he has no 'skill in speech'. The dashes in particular give the impression that thoughts
are occurring to the Duke spontaneously as he speaks.
The use of the word 'you' throughout the poem may make us feel that the Duke is
addressing us personally as we read, since it does not become clear until the final few lines
that he is talking to an envoy. We should remember that at this time 'you' was actually a
polite form of address, as the familiar form 'thee or 'thou' was also in use.
Browning has, in 'My Last Duchess', skilfully portrayed a domineering character, full of his
own self-importance, in the Duke. It is hard to read the poem without feeling compassion for
the Duchess who died at his hand, apparently for having a warm, friendly an d polite manner.
I am left wondering how the next Duchess was to fare, and whether there was hope for a
little more tolerance.
The setting of this astounding monologue by Robert Browning takes place in Italy during the
renaissance period. My last Duchess is founded on events in Alfonso the second¶s life Alfonso
was the Duke of Ferrara in Italy for a fraction of the renaissance period.
In this dramatic monologue authored by Robert Browning the author begins by addressing
his last Duchess to the Counts messenger he states how striking she was and all the diverse
things about her. The Duchess was a flirt and would please a man when she was praised. Fra
Pandolf is an artist that works with the dead he dresses dead people and takes their picture.
³That¶s my last duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive ³. ³Fra Pandolph¶s
hands worked busily a day, and there she stands. The Count invites the courier to sit down
and hear the story about his diseased wife. Strangers glancing at her cadaver appeared to be
traumatized. The narrator directs it to her smile in death. The last duchess adored the
environment around her and was content with the small things in life. ³For calling up that
spot of joy. She had a heart how shall I say? Too soon made glad´
I believe the duke is angry because the duchess was a flirt and thanks everyone excessively as
if she is extraordinary and has a nine hundred year old name. ³She thanked men good! But
thanked somehow I know not how as if she ranked my gift of a nine hundred years old name
with anybody¶s gift´. The excuse for having his wife murdered is exceptionally eccentric if he
possessed half an ounce of intelligence he would have confronted his wife and told her about
her so-called flaws. ³I choose never to stoop´.
The duke enjoys the duchess smiling but then he contradicts himself and states that he only
likes the duchess smiling at him. He boasts that he had enough with her jolly and positive
attitude towards others so he gave commands to halt her smiling forever. ³I gave
commands´. The narrator considers himself to be a general and he uses being a general as an
excuse because general¶s orders should not be taken lightly and should be abided by the out
come is the same in war if you don¶t accept the orders given you are shot for deserting. Like
the duchess she is assassinated for not doing what she is told. In my outlook the duke owns
the duchess like an object the duke demonstrates this by the way he opens and closes the
curtain he has power over her now just like Porphyria¶s lover they both wanted control and
they both killed to get it they both probably have the inherited illness called Porphyria the
only difference is Porphyria¶s lover killed for control of love the duke killed for control of the
person. The duke continues to court the Counts daughter for a large dowry he does not care
about love he only cares about getting rich.
The poem both begins and ends with the descriptions of works of art at the beginning it is the
picture of the duchess and at the climax of the poem it is a bronze statue of Neptune crafted
by Claus of Innsbruck. The duchess is put forward in the poem as a flirt but we have to
remember this is in the view of the duke I believe the duke is covering his own envy, jealousy,
resentment and covetousness to put the blame on her for him having the duchess killed. ³Oh
sir she smiled, no doubt, whene¶er I passed her; but who passed without much the same
smile. ³The half-flush that dies along her throat´ she might have been blushing over the
painter who was painting her features they could have been having an affair like Porphyria
and her lover the duke could of found out and that was the final nail in the coffin so the duke
ordered some one to murder the duchess if the story was told by the painter this could have
been the outcome. The last few lines about Neptune taming a sea horse is about male
dominance Neptune control the sea horse as the duke control the duchess no that she is
dead. ³Notice Neptune, though ,Taming a sea horse´.
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