My Last Duchess



This is probably Browning most famous dramatic monologue. Research the elements of a dramatic monologue.

Dramatic Monologue

Locate these elements in the poem. Annotate them onto the poem.

In this poem the speaker, the duke of Ferrara, is addressing a second character, an agent of an unnamed count whose daughter the duke plans to marry.

The duke is showing the count’s agent a portrait of his first wife.

She was a beautiful woman, but to the duke’s mind she had too little pride.

He was frequently offended by her courtesy to other of lower rank, and he found her too easily pleased by a compliment or by a small favor from a servant or some other “unimportant” person.

The duke felt that she should derive pleasure essentially only from himself.

She should glory in the high social rank into which she had married.

The duke could not lower himself (“stoop”) to tell her what she did that annoyed him.

Instead, he took action, or “gave commands.” The exact nature of the commands is not made explicit, but whatever they were, the duchess is gone, most likely dead.

Now the duke is negotiating the terms of a new marriage agreement.

He tells the count’s agent about his displeasure with his first wife in order to make clear to the second woman what sort of conduct he will expect from her, but of course he does not stoop to stating his demands explicitly.

As the poem ends, the two men turn away from the portrait and go downstairs to join the rest of the company at the duke’s palace.

As they go, the duke casually points out one of his other works of art, a bronze statue of Neptune.




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