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The Last Duchess

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The poem by Robert Browning, My Last Duchess, is written in a form known as dramatic monologue. Dramatic monologue is a type of poem or speech in which the speakers' character is gradually reveled in a dramatic situation through his own words.

In My Last Duchess, one only finds out about the dukes' and duchess' personalities as the poem progresses. The duke in this play has a very possessive and controlling character. This is evident from the fact that the duke refers to his duchess as "my" (line 1). He doesn't like when the duchess receives joy from things other than himself, as we can see in line 30, where everything that people did for her "Would draw from her alike the approving speech". Lines 13-15 also reinforce the idea of the dukes' resentment that his wife does not solely draw pleasure from his presence. One becomes aware of this fact only as the poem goes forward, as it is not evident from the beginning lines of these verses.

In my opinion, the character of the duchess is the antithesis of the character of the duke. The duchess is the epitome of happiness and is a social person, while the duke is arrogant and insecure and doesn't seem to interact well with others. This "Duchess" is described as a "wonder" with a deep and passionate glance. Many different things brought that "spot of joy" (line 21) to her smiling countenance; it was not just her husbands' presence.

The duke compared himself to the god of Neptune (line 54) who was a powerful, dominating deity. This symbolizes his level of envy and control. In the end of this poem, the dukes' jealousy consumes him and he kills his duchess.



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