My Last Duchess

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How does Browning tell the story in the poem ‘My Last Duchess’?

In the poem ‘My Last Duchess’, author Robert Browning tells the story in the form of a dramatic monologue and typically through this form, more of the dukes character is revealed than intended. The duke of Ferrara displays a lack of morality after murdering his wife who’s ‘ looks went everywhere’ and as a result of his jealousy he has her killed; ‘all smiles stopped together’ and causes the reader to fear the safety of his new wife. This poem portrays dominance and control; this is shown firstly in the way it is structured. Only the duke is speaking and Browning does this deliberately. No stanzas are used so the speech is not broken. He speaks in rhyming couplets however it sounds casual which emphasizes that he is speaking to someone, yet it is still structured and intentionally so as the duke is putting on a show. Another way in which dominance is portrayed is the way he is speaking of his late wife and objectifying her by saying how she is ‘painted on the wall’. By putting her into a picture and not naming her we witness a sense of ownership and control. He can control when she is visible and when she’s not ‘by a string that draws the curtain.’ He boasts about how Fra Pandolf’s hands created it and claims it doesn’t take long to make a woman, which yet again is demeaning her and other women. He suggests that his wife didn’t have eyes only for him, ‘twas not her husband’s presence only’ and here we see the sense of jealousy that drives him to his control There are several ways in which this poem may be interpreted; firstly there is the anti-feminists perspective where Browning seems to objectify women and portray them with little rights etc. we can say this because he doesn’t specifically draw any negativity or wrong doing to the fact that the duke has killed his wife and hasn’t received any punishment for doing so, Browning lets him get away with it and doesn’t seem to judge him. This could...
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