An Analysis of My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
“My Last Duchess” is written as a dramatic monologue, which is a poem
that is read as if on stage, talking to an audience or character in a
play. This method of writing has been used because the poem wants to
give one perspective, the Duke’s, in an effective manner. By using
this technique, Browning is also silencing the antagonist, the
Duchess, and becoming the protagonist. The rhyming scheme consists of
rhyming couplets, which give the poem a sense of order, and make the
speaker, the Duke in this case, seem well educated and in control of
their emotions and actions.
These methods of writing help show the character of the protagonist
and the way he viewed the traditions during the Victorian times.
There are two different views in which this poem can be interpreted,
the Marxist, and the feminist. The Marxist view interprets the poem as
if the Duke thinks of everything as his object, and the feminist
viewpoint makes the Duke look as if he doesn’t treat the Duchess as he
The Duke’s personality is revealed by different aspects in the poem,
for example the rhyming scheme, rhyming couplets, makes the poem flow
more easily, which leaves no gaps for interruption. This shows the
Duke’s love of being the centre of attention and being in control.
The Duke also shows this keenness of control when he says the painting
is of “my last Duchess”, showing he treated her as just another
article in his collection of art. The Duke also mentions Frà Pandolph
in his conversation with the count’s servant, showing he is proud of
the painting he has of the Duchess and he is showing off about having
a great artist to paint this picture that he calls “a wonder”.
However, when he says he calls “That piece a wonder, now”, he says it
as if he didn’t appreciate the Duchess until she was dead. The Duke
is also purveyed as a very clever, well educated person, as he has the
ability to speak very poetically, but he does pretend to be
inarticulate at times to let the reader/listener fill in the gaps, for
A heart - how shall I say? – too soon made glad
Too easily impressed;