I read a critical article on Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess". I confess it was harder to find something in the NCLC's than I would've thought. There was a considerable accumulation of critiques on Browning's work, but very little on "My Last Duchess".
The article I found concentrated mostly on the Duke in the poem, and our reactions to him, stating that "[t]he utter outrageousness of the Duke's behavior makes condemnation the least interesting response
" The title of the article was "Sympathy versus Judgment". Some of its points are that the Duke controls the entire poem, that it being a monologue was significant, and that he is almost easy to sympathize with and like. The article discusses Ferarra's nature and his self-involvement which allows the goodness of the Duchess to "shine through the Duke's utterance."
It goes on to speak about sympathy in general and how Browning "delighted in making a case for the apparently immoral position", how he found dramatic monologues the best form to do so, and how he went about it.
It keeps going for a couple more pages on things which I will not go into because they have little relevance to any interpretation of "My Last Duchess". The article as it pertained to my poem was fine; I wish I could have found one which went into more depth as opposed to just discussing immoral characters and our empathy for them. I didn't particularly care for the lawyerly torrent of words that were used, either. I am not ignorant and appreciate the need for words of longer than two syllables when discussing literature (or anything more serious than an episode of "Friends", in fact), but I found it more difficult than usual to get through this article. I found it unconscionably wordy and it felt at times as though he was just stringing fancy words together because they looked all important lined up. However, that's just my opinion.
I was gratified to see that this critic agreed with my interpretation of the Duchess's demise, viz.,...
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