Pride and Ego
“That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall/Looking as if she were alive. I call/That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf’s hands/Worked busily a day, and there she stands.” In the first four lines of Robert Browning’s beautifully written poetic monologue, The Last Duchess, the reader is introduced to the Duke’s haughty and nonchalant attitude toward his deceased first wife. This outlook is carried through the entire piece, as I observe his obvious admiration of his beloved portrait and his eventual disclosure that his Duchess did not die of natural causes. The Duke alludes to the fact that he ordered the murder of his wife simply because his enormous ego was affronted. His obvious need for her undivided attention and complete control over her every move provoked him to have this deed carried out.
One can almost hear the Duke’s true feelings of indignance, as he describes the Duchess to his guest. “Sir, ‘twas not/Her husband’s presence only, called that spot/Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek:…” Her countenance and demeanor illustrated a true love of life, as it seems to have affected the way she treated those she encountered. It is as if she looked upon everyone as equal in statur
The notice she receives from others apparently threatens him and detracts from the attention that he feels she should be lavishing on him. Since he is the Duke of Ferrara and a prominent figure in society, he expects to be shown complete reverence and be the center of attention. " This act was his only way to tame and have complete control over her, as he could not seem to squelch her spirit while she was alive. "I repeat,The Count your master"tms known munificenceIs ample warrant that no just pretenseOf mine for dowry will be disallowed;Though his fair daughter"tms self, as I avowedAt starting, is my object. As he observes the portrait with his visitor, it seems as if it becomes the embodiment of what he believes a wife of his should be - a trophy whose beauty is admired only under his complete control. By controlling who is able to view the painting, the Duke fulfills his need to exhibit his power. Perhaps the servant would advise the Count's daughter as a warning so that she would live in fear and awe of the Duke. Regrettably for her, this included the Duke, whose idea of respect is to be placed above all else and treated reverentially. " Unfortunately, because she seemed to be enchanted with her surroundings and not completely focused on her husband, the Duke"tms warped ideas of respect and subservience were insulted.