Readers favor Robert Browning's story poems in a form he perfected, the dramatic monologue (Kennedy 1169). Dramatic monologues have four basic characteristics: they contain a single speaker monologue, they have a silent audience, the speech occurs at some dramatic moment in the speakers life, and the speaker reveals his personality without realizing he does so. Probably one of the most famous dramatic monologues ever written is Browning's "My Last Duchess" (661). Robert Browning is known as the father of the dramatic monologue. .
The Duke of Ferrara, the single speaker in "My Last Duchess," is portrayed as a jealous but arrogant man. Throughout the poem the Duke repetitively expresses his concern of other men fancying his wife. He was made jealous by everything the duchess did. The Duke was especially jealous of Fra Pandolf, the man who painted the picture of the duchess in the poem. She was "too easily impressed "(23) by the painter. Everyone who passed by the Duchess received "much the same smile"(44) as the Duke. He seems to be possessive of the Duchess saying, "That's my last Duchess" (1) as if he won her. Later in the poem his attitude toward other people looking at her changes when he says, "Will't please you sit and look at her?" (5). .
An important aspect of "My Last Duchess" is Browning's use of a silent audience. Throughout the reading no one else speakers other than the Duke himself. He makes comments without receiving any reply afterward. He asks, "Who"d stoop to blame/ This sort of trifling?"(34-35) with expectations of someone answering his question but no reply is given. He directly makes comments to the envoy withdrawing persona from the poem. .
The speech given in "My Last Duchess" occurs at a dramatic moment in the speaker's life. In this particular poem it is after the death of the Duchess. The speaker tells of the death of his duchess saying, "Who passed without Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands/ Then all smiles stopped together.