Her last Duke

Essay by asdfghjkl123College, UndergraduateA+, May 2014

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Her Last Arse Robert Browning's poem "My Last Duchess" takes place primarily upstairs in a Duke's home, while the Duke is conversing with a Count about his deceased Duchess. The poem is being narrated through the mind of the Duke. Because Robert Browning is not the narrator of this poem, the reader gets to find out how the Duke's mind functions. This in fact entails an understanding of the literary technique of showing, not telling. Browning chooses not to write that the Duke was an arrogant, controlling, possessive and jealous murderous husband. As an alternative, Browning shows the true personality of the Duke, by allowing the reader to enter the mind of the Duke- where all of the said traits can be seen. In the very opening of the poem the reader can begin to see just how possessive the Duke is. In the words of Joshua Adler, "a further manifestation of the Duke's egoism and possessiveness is the reference to her as 'my last Duchess'" (Adler 222; Browning 1).

The Duke's usage of a personal pronoun implies that the Duchess belongs to him; it seems as if he is displaying ownership, almost as if he is objectifying his last Duchess. This assertion is further supported as it is later revealed that the Duke keeps this portrait of his last Duchess behind curtains (Browning line 10). He is able to fully enjoy having possession of his last Duchess, as she is now an object on a wall, which he controls only allowing others to see her when he pleases. This gives the reader a sense of just how much the Duke enjoys manipulating and possessing others. Another trait of the Duke that can be seen in the first few lines of the poem is his arrogance, in the way that...