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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Critical Analysis of "My Last Duches" by Robert Browning

Critical Analysis of "My Last Duches" by Robert Browning

My Last Duchess is written by Robert Browning in 1842. A dramatic monologue of the Duke of Ferrara presents his best side to the agent of the count of Tyrol when he tries to talk about his previous wife. 

Set in iambic pentameter, AABB rhyme scheme along with other techniques such as enjambment and caesura, the poem reveals qualities about the speaker and his situation. The reader might be drawn to the conclusion that the speaker has something to do with his wife’s death as revealed in his confusing speech and actions throughout the poem. The dramatic monologue exposes the speaker’s true personality and his situation more than he aims to say both to the agent and the reader.

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The Duke of Ferrara seems to be controlling in nature; he tries to control everyone he is comes to term with,  like he controls the actions of the agent as read in line 5, “Will’t please you sit and look at her”, “Will’t please you rise?” (l 47) and “Nay, we’ll go/ Together down, sir” (l 53-54.) He succeeded in controlling Fra Pandolf’s works of art but failed to control his wife when she was still alive. When the Duchess dies he fully gains power over her, his possessiveness surfaces in the lines 9 to 10: “since non puts by/ the curtain I have drawn for you, but I”.

The Duke tries to put his wife in the bad light, giving the reader the impression that she is flirtatious, false and disrespectful, while he appears to be the abused but caring husband. His previous wife’s actions leave him no choice but to kill her. But as he is telling the agent about his wife’s death he appears nervous and tense. The use of caesura suggests that he is unsure of what to say next. He could not understand of his wife’s love for natural, simple things and her kindness she displays towards others he treated it with disdain. He could not gain command over his wife’s appreciation towards others that he thought it belongs to him alone. Her happy disposition and love of life which he could not control made him to kill her in the end.

The poem is all about mystery, murder and intrigue. Robert Browning effectively captures the Duke’s haughty and arrogant character.

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