How Does Browning Reveal the Characters in the Monologue, “My Last Duchess”?
View Full Essay
Robert Browning was a 19th Century English poet who was made famous by the way he mastered the act of dramatic monologues such as “Porphyria's Lover”, however he wasn’t always considered to be great poet mainly because the subject matters he wrote about were thought to be obscure and dark. In his poetry he tends to expose the inner thoughts of powerful people who are on the outskirts of society. The poem “My Last Duchess” was written in 1842, it was one of his first poems, afterwards he then went on to write several more.
The poem “My Last Duchess” is spoken by an Italian Duke to the Envoy who has been sent to organise the marriage of the powerful and rich Duke to the Count’s daughter. The main Envoy is taken on a tour of the Duke’s house, once they reach the portrait of his “last Duchess”, who of course is already dead, the Duke stops and immediately begins to talk about her.
In the poem, Robert Browning uses a number of literal devices to exploit the inner most terrible thoughts of the Duke these as things like his use of metaphors to summaries his internal feelings, pronouns to express his sheer self-love, enjambment to represent his thought trail as well as rhetorical questions which show him questioning his own thoughts in order to be sure that he can find the right words and way of explaining things to the Envoy.
One of the first chilling ways in which Robert Browning exposes the character of the Duke is by including slight horror to his poem “My Last Duchess” when the Italian Duke is showing the Envoy around his grand home and pauses in front of a portrait which he then refers to as his “last Duchess” pointing out the fact that she is now dead, also the way he did this illustrates that he has a sense of pride about her, almost saying he is proud of the fact that she is dead. The word “last” quantifies her suggesting that there may have been several more before her, this immediately makes the reader start to queerly the way she died, and the implied...