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My Last Duchess

In Robert Browing’s monologue “My Last Duchess”, the Duke of Ferrara is displaying the portrait of his late duchess to a servant. From the first two lines of the poem, we are given information that the duchess has passed away, “Looking as if she were alive,” therefor the poem is based on flashback. As the duke shows the portrait to the servant, he also describes how the duchess behaved when she was alive. From his description, the readers get a strong feeling that the duke is very unsatisfied with his late wife. His criticisms about the duchess can be found throughout the poem. Lines such as: “she liked whate'er/ She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.”(23, 24), “’twas not/Her husband’s presence only, called that spot/Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek…”(13-15). The Duke is obviously very jealous of how his wife treats other people, most likely other male. “She thanked men... if she ranked my gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name/ With anybody's gift”(31-34). The duke has a very strong sense of pride, he is very proud of his “nine-hundred-years-old name”. Therefore when the duchess’ eyes does not only land on him, he becomes furious. From the line “e’en then would be some stooping; and I choose/Never to stoop,” one can tell the duke is very self-centered and arrogant, because he even refuse to communicate with his wife. If he “stoop”, he will be admitting that the duchess and him have the same level of status; therefore, he would “never stoop”. To the duke, the duchess is merely one of his possession. The fact that she should not “look on” or blush for other male shows how dominant the duke is. However, he does not seem to have full control over the duchess, and his lack of control is the main reason for his fury and anger toward the duchess. As the readers read on, a shocking fact is revealed, which is the duke ordered the death of the duchess. “I gave commands;/ Th...

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My Last Duchess. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:29, August 30, 2014, from