My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

Decent Essays

‘My Last Duchess’ is all about control and jealousy. Written by Robert Browning in 1842 (the Victorian era), the dramatic monologue is set in 16th Century Italy where the Duke of Ferrara is talking to a Count’s emissary about a prospective marriage with the Counts daughter.

The poem conveys the controlling nature of the Duke by the use of one stanza in the entire poem. It demonstrates this, as there is no interruption from the servant and no break whilst the Duke is talking. Any pauses in the poem, which are created by the Duke, are used to break up the Duke’s thoughts, not to allow the other person to speak. Browning uses a lot of commas to build up the pace of the Duke’s speech – it also eliminates any chance for the other person to talk.

Browning uses a possessive pronoun in the Duke’s description of his late wife. He writes, “That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall.” The use of the “my” shows the objectification of the “last Duchess” by the Duke. Duke Ferrara calls the late Duchess ‘his’ to show ownership over her, this possessiveness may confirm why he is not happy with her friendliness. This kind of behaviour was normal in the 16th century as women were seen as inferior because they were classed as property of the men. During that time, most societies were an extreme patriarchal society. Browning produces a sinister undertone whilst he is talking about his wife “painted on the wall” instead of the painting of his deceased wife, which continues to develop the

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