Analysis of My Last Duchess by Robert Browning Essay examples

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Analysis of My Last Duchess by Robert Browning Murder mystery intrigue. All describe Robert Browning's poem, 'My Last Duchess'. From the speaker's indirect allusions to the death of his wife the reader might easily think that the speaker committed a vengeful crime out of jealousy. His flowery speech confuses and disguises any possible motives, however, and the mystery is left unsolved. The poem is a great example of dramatic dialogue, a poetic form used to narrate and dramatize. It consists entirely of the words of a single speaker who reveals in his speech his own nature and the dramatic situation in which he finds himself. This format suits this poem particularly well because the speaker, taken to be the Duke of Ferrara,…show more content…
I wonder what happened ...", or at least we might wonder until he finished his sentence with "Looking as if she were alive." This clause, also sounding peculiar, tells us two things. The Duchess looks out at us, the viewers, directly from the painting; and her depiction there is life-like, that is, we might be looking at a living person rather than a work of art. Yet wouldn't Ferrara say "life-like" or "true to life," if that was simply what he meant? His choice of words may suggest that, while she, the Duchess herself (rather than her image in the painting), looks alive, she may be dead; and the phrase "last Duchess" echoes in our working memory. Do we know for sure? Does "she" mean the Duchess or her painting? When discussing the poem's content, there are many things we know for certain and many others that are questionable. We know that the Duchess died suspiciously and that the Duke is in the process of looking for a new wife. He is speaking to a messenger about a painting of his now deceased wife. The Duke, of course, is casting himself in a favorable light and is presenting his best side. He wants to make it look as if his wife was cheating on him and was unfaithful to him. He is very controlling, and could not control her and her smiles. This smile was what the Duke likes the most about the painting of the Duchess--he feels that the painter accurately captured the smile and the vivacity of the Duchess. Now that the Duke

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