Characterization of The Duke of Ferrara in My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

661 Words 3 Pages
Characterization of The Duke of Ferrara in My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word "officious" during the 19th century as "eager to please; attentive, obliging." In the dramatic monologue, My Last Duchess by Robert Browning, this word describes a servant that is volunteering his service unnecessarily to the Duke of Ferrara’s wife. Although the speaker, the Duke of Ferrara, is speaking of this servant in a negative manner, he wishes his wife to be officious towards him; the Duke of Ferrara wishes to have total control. So, the Duke is both discouraging and discouraging officiousness, depending on whom it is directed. The Duke of Ferrara emphasizes his need for power and control over his wife,
…show more content…
The poem also flows smoothly from one line to the next, making the Duke appear to be an exceptionally fluent and articulate speaker. This describes the character of the Duke because he is obsessed with being in control. The Duke reveals his manipulative characteristics through the poem.

The dialogue is composed of several terms and phrases that describe the Duke’s personality, and his views about officiousness. For example, "E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose never to stoop" (ll. 42-43). This short locution shows the pomposity and stubbornness of the Duke of Ferrara. He is obviously overly confident, and he believes his Duchess should worship his every move. The Duchess did not treat the Duke with the officiousness that he wished, and, consequently, he "gave commands; then all smiles stopped together," meaning that he ordered her to be killed (ll. 45-46). This action is justified in the Duke’s mind because he could not control her actions, and now his Duchess painted in a portrait covered with a curtain, which is only drawn by the Duke. Therefore, the control which was absent in their mortal relationship is now presented by the Duke when he draws the curtain revealing the Duchess.

The listener in the poem plays an important
Open Document