An analysis of Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess" .
"My Last Duchess" is a dramatic monologue, which takes place in the Italian renaissance and the persona in this poem is Alfonso II, duke of Ferrera. The incidents take place at the staircase where the duke is addressing an agent about his late wife, duchess Lucrezia while looking at her portrait. The duke's agenda with the agent is his wish to marry the daughter of the count of Tyrol. .
The poem is written in iambic pentameter in order to imitate natural speech so that the poet is not confused with the persona. Browning's intention to imitate natural speech could be to distance himself from the duke.
The poem is written entirely with rhyming couplets and he has also made use of alliteration "The dropping of the daylight in the west" and "she rode with round the terrace".
The set-up in this poem is about the duke's displeasure with his last wife and how he uses her as a counterpart to how the ideal wife should be. Through him we learn something about the last duchess while at the same time we learn about his character by hearing how he thought and felt about her. .
As they go down to join the rest of the party, the duke exclusively reveals the portrait of his last wife, which is hidden behind a curtain. .
"Looking as if she were alive", "I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands as if alive".
He tells the agent that she looks as if she were alive and that all her smiles stopped at his command, which could be read as a direct admission of murder. He tells the agent about his displeasure with his last wife in order to make clear to the second woman what sort of conduct he will expect from her. The fact that the duchess was kind and easily impressed disgusted the duke because in his wretched mind these emotions should only be restricted to his pleasure. He was offended by her courtesy to other people of lower rank and the fact that she treated him and his gestures in the same manner made him feel undervalued and indifferent.