Critical Essay - My Last Duchess

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Critical Essay My Last Duchess – Ferrara Robert Browning has created a perfect blend of form and content in his poem, ‘My Last Duchess’. The poetic techniques used allowed me, as the reader, to become involved in this poem and also contribute to an engaging read. Through using key techniques Browning brought to me a deeper appreciation of this poem, and in this essay I will study these further. The poem concerns the character, the Duke of Ferrara who is giving a tour of his manner to an envoy, who has been sent to negotiate a dowry for the marriage of his master’s, the count’s, daughter to the Duke. He stops at a painting of his late wife, his ‘last Duchess’ and begins a speech of which he is recanting his thoughts of her. From this speech, his wife was popular, especially with men, and a passionate and pleasant lady (to the reader only). The Duke is telling of his intolerances of her actions, being that of flirtations with men, however innocent, and how she did not rate his ‘gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name’, but instead treated him as she did others. It is well hinted that her behaviour angered the Duke so he had his Duchess killed, ‘I gave commands;Then all the smiles stopped together.’ It would seem his speech is also for the purpose of letting the envoy know his expectations of his new wife, that being very different to the last. Because the poem is in the form of a dramatic monologue, the reader only shares the conversation of the Duke. Through his speech the Duke wants to show certain aspects of his character, which he does. He wants his audience to know he is a man with status and to be regarded highly. We know this as he is proud of his ‘nine-hundred-years-old name’, and expected his late wife to have respected and rated this, although she did not. However, the effect of this speech leads the Duke into

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