"My Last Duchess" - How is the character of the Duke slowly revealed in the poem?

Essay by joe96Junior High, 9th gradeA+, June 2006

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This historic poem, "My Last Duchess", was written by Robert Browning in the middle of the nineteenth century, more precisely, in the year of 1842. This dramatic monologue is written in rhyming couplets, but the poem is so well thought of and so well structured that the reader/listener doesn't even notice the rhyming sounds. During the poem, the Duke of Ferrara is speaking to an envoy of a Count, do discuss and arrange an agreement for the Duke to marry the Count's daughter, and in turn, the lady will be married to his "nine-hundred-years-old" name. While he speaks, the Duke shows the painting of his dead wife to the Count envoy.

The poem sounds like a conversation, as the Duke uses personal pronouns such as "you" and "we", when speaking to the envoy, but even though it is classified as a conversation, only the Duke is speaking and the reader/listener is put into the position of the envoy, forced to sit down and listen to the Duke's stories and worried.

This idea of the Duke speaking directly to us is re-enforced in sentences such as "Will't please you sit and look at her", and "Will't please you rise?", which are more orders and demands that proper requests. This memorable conversation is set in a private room inside the Duke's palace. I imagine the room as being a dark room, with dark brown decaying furniture and with more depressing colours such as dark red, black, brown and grey. I also imagine it would have lots of gold, and the centre of attentions of the room would be the statue of Neptune and the big, dark, mysterious curtain, which "none puts by / the curtain but I (the Duke)".

The Duke reveals himself as being a very possessive, proud, and extremely jealous...