Poem Analysis: My Last Duchess

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My Last Duchess-Robert Browning

The poem "My Last Duchess" by Robert Browning is a poem written about a Duke of the 16th the century. The Duke is the speaker of the poem an is explaining to a visitor about a portrait of a ex-wife. He tells how she was a flirt and had very disgraceful behavior. He claims she flirted with everyone and did not appreciate his "gift of a nine-hundred-years- old name." As his monologue continues, the reader realizes with ever-more chilling certainty that the Duke in fact caused the Duchess's early demise, when her behavior escalated, "he gave commands, then all smiles stopped together." He is saying that he had her killed because she was flirting with everyone else, but the Duke himself. The man that is visiting is going to help him remarry to another young girl just like his first wife. The poem concludes with him walking away from the portrait pointing out other notable artworks in his collection.

"My Last Duchess" comprises rhyming pentameter lines. The lines use enjambment which is, sentences and other grammatical units do not necessarily conclude at the end of lines. Consequently, the rhymes do not create a sense of closure when they come, but rather remain a subtle driving force behind the Duke's compulsive revelations. The Duke is quite a performer, mimicking others' voices, creating hypothetical situations, and uses the force of his personality to make horrifying information seem merely colorful.

In "The Last Duchess," we must piece the story together ourselves. Browning forces his reader to become involved in the poem in order to understand it, and this adds to the fun of reading his work. It also forces the reader to question his or her own response to the subject portrayed and the method of its portrayal.

I really did not enjoy reading this poem. I do not like reading poems that make you have to figure out the whole situation in order to understand it. If the poem was more direct and straight to the point I may...
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