Dr. Amy Murphy
14 February 2000
The Duke of Ferrara: Characterization and Depiction
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word "officious" during the 19th century as "eager to please; attentive, obliging." In the dramatic monologue, My Last Duchess by Robert Browning, this word describes a servant that is volunteering his service unnecessarily to the Duke of Ferrara's wife. Although the speaker, the Duke of Ferrara, is speaking of this servant in a negative manner, he wishes his wife to be officious towards him; the Duke of Ferrara wishes to have total control. So, the Duke is both discouraging and discouraging officiousness, depending on whom it is directed. The Duke of Ferrara emphasizes his need for power and control over his wife, and demonstrates obvious signs of being a "control freak," whether it be purposefully or inadvertently, through the style of the dialogue, composition of the dialogue, and the treatment of the messenger that emphasizes the role of the listener.
The poem gains the reader's interest from the very beginning with this line: "That is my last Duchess painted on the wall, looking as if she were alive" (ll. 1-2). The element that creates the interest is the use of the phrase "as if." The introductory lines are a fancy way to say that the woman in the portrait is dead, but the tone is mysterious and creates curiosity, which encourages the reader to continue. The poem also flows smoothly from one line to the next, making the Duke appear to be an exceptionally fluent and articulate speaker. This describes the character of the Duke because he is obsessed with being in control. The Duke reveals his manipulative characteristics through the poem.
The dialogue is composed of several terms and phrases that describe the Duke's personality, and his views about officiousness. For example, "E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose never to stoop" (ll. 42-43). This short locution shows the pomposity and... [continues]
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(1999, 10). My Last Duchess. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 1999, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/My-Last-Duchess-18895.html
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"My Last Duchess." StudyMode.com. 10, 1999. Accessed 10, 1999. http://www.studymode.com/essays/My-Last-Duchess-18895.html.