December 4, 2008
My Last Duchess
In the dramatic monologue My Last Duchess, written by Robert Browning, we the readers take a backseat to the unveiling of the Duke’s true personality. Irony takes center stage, as the Duke of Ferrara is explaining himself and his feelings for his last Duchess, when he gets caught up in his own nostalgia and indirectly reveals more than is needed for the particular conversation. Leaving the readers without an actual conclusion as to what happened to the expired Duchess, Browning uses tone to order to show the true nature of the Duke and his dastardly deeds. The Duke is fueled by pride and his ego gives him justification to his own actions, leaving him with no remorse.
Throughout the dramatic monologue we the readers are exposed to the Duke of Ferrara showing off his paintings to a comrade, a comrade to the father of the new soon to be wife of the Duke; someone he should be watching his words more closely with. We do not know the comrade’s identity other than “Sir” (Browning, Line 54). The monologue begins with the painting of the “Last Duchess”, (L.1) in which the Dukes talks of the painting’s beauty, “Looking as if she were alive”.(L.2) Displaying the fact that he actually did find her beautiful. But the Duke goes onto to reveal her faults unto the comrade, saying “She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.”(L.24) meaning she might have been a flirt or gazed at other men. The Duke being arrogant and proud arty is disgusted by these flirtatious accounts, offended that his “nine-hundred-years-old name”(L.33) could be of equal or lesser value than “anybody’s gift”. And yet he could not talk to her about his feelings, “Even had you skill in speech – (which I have not)…” (L.35). And even if he was able, he probably would not choose to because this would damage his ego even more. The poems serious tone starts increasing greatly here, and we go deeper into the heart of the...