My Last Duchess

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My last Duchess essay 'My last Duchess' is a dramatic monologue written by Robert Browning in 1842. The poem itself is based in the 16th century and is narrated by Ferrara, the fifth Duke. Throughout the poem, many aspects of the Duke's personality are brought to attention such as his need to possess and control in order to maintain his reputation. All of this shows a strong contrast between the Duke and the Duchess; between his sour jealousy and her ever present smile and easily pleased personality, ultimately causing the reader to lose trust within the Duke and have sympathy towards the sweet happiness of the innocent Duchess. This contrast is a manifestation of the Duke's frustration with his inability to control the Duchess and her nonchalant but near-total control over him. This is displayed a number of times throughout the poem. The Duchess is first introduced as a painting hanging in the Duke’s gallery. It is here that Downing presents the reader with the essence of the poem: the very fact that she is a mere painting capturing her beauty, which is the only thing that the Duke ever saw in her and he calls upon others to admire his object but only upon his request "That's my last Duchess painted on the Wall" This is a good example of the Duke’s attitude to his wife: If Ferrara were to say that's my duchess it would almost indicate a sense of pride. However, the use of the word 'last' gives the reader the sense that she is something old, broken and without use- but his use of the two words together cancels out any emotional feeling and creates a whole new meaning to the poem. The use of 'my last duchess' shows the Dukes true nature as a possessive man shaped by his materialistic views. This is further shown as he mentions the Artist: 'Fra Pandolf's hands' and ''Fra Pandolf' by design' Here he mentions the artists name like a brand or label as his name is well known and famous amongst the aristocratic circle whereas there is no name for the Duchess. This...
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