“My Last Duchess”, one of the most beautiful poems in English literature by Robert Browning; a poem in the dramatic monologue form, unlike others, that conveys its message by implementing pure and genuine technicality through the character within it. The poem takes place at the art gallery in the residence of the Duke of Ferrara, where the Duke, after his previous wife’s death or disappearance, is preparing to remarry and is talking to the messenger of the Count of Tyrol who has come with the proposal of the Count’s niece’s hand. My response and comment is specifically based on the character of the Duke, for I believe the poem, or rather the Duke in the poem himself has been entirely successful in putting forward a comprehensive view of the several attributes of his personality while also being unable to convince the readers to support his claim. Throughout the poem, the Duke employs both tact and conciliation as he conveys his message, or more appropriately, his demand to the messenger without actually revealing his actual attitude in person. At the very beginning, the Duke comments on a painting containing a portrait of his Last Duchess. “I call
That a piece a wonder,” (Line 2 – 3)
He feels very proud by referring the painting as a piece which connotes his consideration of his wife as a mere object. He then goes on to discuss the charming expression that his wife wore in the painting.
“for never read Strangers like you that pictured countenance…
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus” (Line 6 – 13)
Such an amazing expression that seemed to urge everyone who looked at it, ask him how did that expression come to her face, since he was the only one to control the curtains covering the painting; in other words, this is another way of explaining that only he alone has, or has had the desire for, possession and control over the...
References: 1. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, W. W. Norton; 8th edition (October 1, 2005).
2. Harmon, William, and C. Hugh Holman. A Handbook to Literature. 8th edn. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.
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