My Last Duchess

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Discuss Browning’s ‘My Last Duchess’ as a Dramatic Monologue A Dramatic monologue is a form of poetry where the speaker in the poem gives the readers a deep insight into his thoughts. It is different from a soliloquy since a dramatic monologue always has an implied audience. Dramatic monologue although originated well before the 19th century, it was popularized by Victorian poets like Browning, Tennyson and Dante Rossetti. Browning has experimented with this form of poetry to such depths that dramatic monologue has almost become synonymous with Browning’s name. Two significant qualities of dramatic monologues are: (i) An individual who is separated from the poet narrates the speech that forms the poem. (ii) The speaker addresses to one or more audience but the readers become aware of the audience only through the words of the speaker. Browning’s ‘My Last Duchess’ is a perfect example of a dramatic monologue as it satisfies all the requirements for this specific form of poetry as mentioned above. The speaker in the poem is the Duke of Ferrara and he narrates about his last duchess and cause of her death to an emissary, who is the implied listener. The Duke begins by showing the emissary a portrait of his duchess. He praises the portrait as a masterpiece by Fra Pandolf. The life like quality of the portrait despite the death of the duchess is admired by the Duke and he begins to speak about the spot of joy on the duchess’ cheek. Until this point the Duke’s speech about the portrait reveals no trace of hatred or anger the Duke might hold for his late wife. In the lines that follow, the Duke expresses his disapproval on how the even the simplest of things made the duchess quite happy. Whether it was a centuries old, precious gift from the Duke, the white mule that duchess rode, the sunset in the west or cherries plucked by a stranger, the duchess was equally excited. She expressed her happiness and gratitude in equal measure for both her husband and a stranger....
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