My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

1795 Words Feb 17th, 2018 7 Pages
The Duke married a young bride, Lucrezia de’ Medici; however, their marriage ended mysteriously after just three years (Bloom 16). Within My Last Duchess, Browning uses the character and voice of the Duke to pass comment upon some of the themes of the Italian Renaissance, particularly the juxtaposition between aesthetics and morality. Furthemore, he goes on to use the Renaissance framework to criticize aspects of his own Victorian society. At the heart of the poem is the question of changes to the traditional establishment, particularly in regard to women and sensuality. The first part of this essay will explore the manner in which the poem echoes the ornamentation and Baroque sensibilities of the Renaissance. The second section will analyze the notion of the Renaissance “mask”, the facade of civility that covers a deeper amorality and horror. The third section will examine the ways in which the Renaissance and the Victorian period were similar, as well as the manner in which Browning drew parallels between the two and used the poem as a vehicle to voice important social criticism.

The Duchess as an ornament
My Last Duchess presents a classic example of a dramatic monologue, a poetic form that was often used by Robert Browning. In structuring the monologue, Browning uses rhyming pentameter lines that employ…
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