Essay On "my Last Duchess"
Persona of Browning?s ?My last duchess? is a Duke who has recently been widowed. In this poem Duke is going to get married with the daughter of another wealthy and powerful family and their messenger comes to negotiate about Duke?s marriage. As he shows to messenger through his palace he sees the portrait of the Duchess who has died. This portrait reminds Duke of the Duchess. First, he starts reminiscing about the portrait, then Duchess herself. He claims she flirted with many men and did not value his ?gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name?. As their speech continues reader learns the bewildering reality that Duke?s himself caused the early death of duchess; ?I gave commands; / then all smiles stopped together./ There she stands as if alive? (lines 45-47). After this exposition Duke thinks about his new marriage. He leaves the portait with messenger and continues to show through his palace. The Duke points out other artworks in his collection.
Mystery is the most important theme in Browning?s ?My Last Duchess?. As the monologue continues reader get more information about the Duke?s inner world but they are not clear. The poem gives clues about the Duke and his past but reader can never be sure about them. The mystery is left unsolved. I think the biggest mystery is about Duke?s character because I think he is not sincere. He is looking for new wife and of course trying to show his best side. For this reason, he may want to make it look as if his wife was cheating on him. However, I think this is very ironic situation because he tries to show his best sides but he shows his worst sides unwittingly. I can see from the poem that Duchess is a person who can easily be happy and can share this with the people around her even when they are from lower class than her. Here, the key point is the Duke?s passion for control. When Duchess was alive he could not control her smile and love for life. For this reason he considered her unfaithful. As mentioned before, he is very controlling but could not control his wife?s smiles. So, he owns this painting and puts it behind the curtain. Now, he can at least control who is blessed with her smile. Moreover, the other point about the Duke?s character that called my attention is his insensitive manner while telling about his old wife. Because of his controlling characteristic he sees everything and everybody as an object to command. Owning the portrait of the Duchess is an example of it. He does not care whether she is alive and with him. Owning the portrait and putting it behind a curtain is enough for him.
The poem is an classic example of dramatic monologue. Browning?s pschological portrait of Duke presented to the reader as if aevesdropping on a casual conversation. The speaker is divergent from the poet. The main aim of the poet is to expose the Duke?s character. This aim suits to the form of the poem because dramatic monologue presents the moment in which main character discusses on a specific topic and by doing this s/he reveals his personal feelings to the reader. During his speech he gives clues on to his personality. ? My Last Duchess? meets with its readers in a pschological level because we only hear the Duke?s voice and in order to understand it reader needs to be involved in the poem, and I think this adds fun to the poem and makes it colorful.
In conclusion, after reading the poem I tought about the Duke and I think he is really a cold-hearted person. He does not have any emotions. If the only subject of the poem considered, it is really very dramatic. A woman is killed because of his husband?s jealousy. However, because we listen only the Duke and he tells everything as normal it does not look as if it is dramatic. I think this is because of the poem?s excellence. It is really very great and succesful poem.