MY LAST DUCHESS My initial reaction to this poem was that it was a typical melancholy poem of a man professing his love for a woman that did not love him in return, or whose love he could not acquire for some reason. Now, this is probably just because I am not the best at analyzing poems, but I was thoroughly surprised when upon further analyzation and input from my classmates it became clear that it was really a poem about a man who murdered his wife because her infidelity drove him crazy. To me, this does not seem like a very good topic for romantic poetry, but I can see why it is classified as so, with aspects of romanticism such as first person perspective. This is also somewhat reasonably classified as romantic poetry because of the emphasis the character places on his heart. He makes it very clear that he did not use his brain very much in his relationship with his flirtatious wife and let the power of his imagination and emotions govern his actions, resulting in his murdering his wife and search for a new one. In the end, I really enjoyed this poem and the story you can extract from such a cleverly written poem upon great analyzation.
My Last Duchess, Robert BrowningThe tone of this poem is so musing, but the implication of this tone in conjunction with the sheer content has an overall eerie effect, that is, that this Duke can point out his late wife like a mere memento, as if her significance in reality is not of a greater nature or magnitude than the painting that displays her countenance. In this sense the poem is unnatural, and unromantic, except that we can guess that there is more to the Duke’s feeling than he is making clear, to us, the guest in his home. If we take a further step forward, we realized the anger and resentment that is manifesting itself in the form of an apathetic mood, which seems incongruent, but is verily concordant with human nature, that is, that we tend to attack the memory of things we resent by degrading them through flat indifference. The Duke resents his late wife for being such a wicked flirt. He can reconcile his own shame by objectifying her memory, indeed it is Browning’s mechanism to use a portrait of the lady as the real subject of discussion instead of the lady herself.
In this poem, Browning is focusing on the power of imagination, one of the main concepts of Romanticism. The poem is itself an example of imagination in that the speaker in the poem is not Browning himself. He takes on a persona of a Duke, and writes about a fictional interaction between the Duke and a servant. The poet takes this sense of imagination a step farther in that the Duke is using a portrait of his "last Duchess" to recall a situation. He imagines what might have been said as the painting was being created, saying "perhaps Fra Pandolf chanced to say..." The imagination of this fictional Duke is also what leads to his wife's murder. He remarks that he had started to question her, saying "who passed without/ much the same smile" and had reached the conclusion that she had to be killed. Throughout this poem, Browning refers to the power of imagination, qualifying his work as Romantic.
My Last DuchessBrowning's "My Last Duchess" explores the psychology of the speaker, a Duke whose jealousy impels him to murder his last wife, a woman of great infidelity. Unlike many other romantic poems, it does not a heavy emphasis on the nature of the physical world, but rather an emphasis on the sometimes ruthless and uncivilized nature of man. Perhaps the most striking features of the poem is its subtlety. For instance, instead of bluntly admitting that he killed his wife, he says, "I gave commands;/Then all smiles stopped together" (45-46). This flowery, somewhat misleading language greatly contrasts with the true feelings of the speaker, whose brutal behavior is comparable to the manner of a savage. The lines of this poem hint at much more than what is written. Even the acknowledging of the statue of Neptune taming a seahorse at the end has a higher meaning, as it is a representation of the Duke's relationship, an attempt to seize control.I enjoyed the poem's inventive use of subtlety and symbolism and found the darkness of the very immoral speaker to be both intriguing and disturbing.
My Last Duchess The poem at first seems to be that of a man admiring the painting of his beloved wife, instead a truly horrific story (beneath the subtle words) comes about. It's at first difficult to clearly see how the poem ties into romanticism, it lacks the natural scenery (a key in romantic poems). However the mood present gives the mind a foggy image, a clouded sky not leading you to the real tragedy. The speaker's way of voicing his actions are quite humorous (If you think about it) because it’s that kind of person that’s either in serious denial, or doesn't believe he's committed a terrible act. Killing your wife sounds kind of troublesome, and the fact that he’s able to admit it with such carelessness is a little more than strange. The genuine thoughts the speaker expresses completely through me off, it’s misleading. Of course Browning’s style of writing puts a question in to your head as well as makes you think deeply about the story he's laid out. It’s amazing how Blake uses this painting to tell a story. I find the speaker's character to incredibly interesting. Nicely done Browning!
"My Last Duchess" -Robert BrowningUpon first hearing the poem by Browning read in class I noticed the plot of the poem was a Duke presenting a portrait of his last wife who he murdered. Typically, murdering a spouse seems like the exact opposite of romantic. However, the way Browning has the Duke speak and the subtle, underlying themes he creates, as well as the imagination and exploration of the nature of man classify the poem as romantic. For example, the Duke speaks of his wife in a tone that initially suggested that he admired the women and her free spirit. Upon further analysis, I realized that the Duke's tone when speaking of his dead wife's flirtatious and free willed personality holds feelings of anger and hatred. This is how Browning signified the fast that the Duke did indeed kill his wife in apposition to that aspect of her personality. The fact that Browning's character did kill his wife dips into the concept of the nature of man. Browning explored the nature of man through including the concepts of jealousy, hatred, loyalty, murder, and guilt. Though the poem does not discuss aspects of nature or typical romantic subjects, it is undoubtedly a romantic piece. This is due to the language and underlying tone, as well as discussion of the nature of man that Browning included in this work.
"My Last Duchess" - Robert BrowningAh, the story of a man whose affection has been captured by an object which does not equally reciprocate the said emotion. A theme echoed throughout romantic liturature. But this poem is saturated with aspects of the romantic style aside from just the used, lover's soul. The poem begins sympatheticly where the Duke laments how his wife was unfaithful, but Browning uses the romantic aspect of imagination to develop the subtle twist where the Duke actually murders his wife out of jealousy. Browning ties the frivolity and virginity of his deceased wife with nature by writing "The bough of cherries some officious fool/ Broke in the orchard for her". Ironically, this whole speech about his failed previous relationship is in negotiation for another wife. The Duke's appreciation for art, specifically the "Neptune...taming a seahorse" symbolizes the Dukes search for control and domination in romantic relationships.
When we read this poem in class,I understood that it was about him presenting a painting of his former love, but I didn't catch the crucial part of the poem: The fact that he murdered her. This important point is expressed in one short line: "I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together." I think it's a bit odd that this is such a sudden part of the poem, but I like that about it very much because you can feel the jealously growing steadily throughout and then all the sudden she's dead. It's very dramatic. Through reading this poem I also think I came to understand romanticism more. I was under the impression that it was all about spewing all the happy thoughts you have about something nice and pretty, but in this poem it's quite the opposite. But what this poem and other romantic poems have in common is that they are all obsessed with something, fixated on one object, whether it be with good thoughts or with bad.
Browning coolly starts off the poem, and by his tone towards his “last duchess” he is seemingly reminiscent of the happy times spent with his former wife. He asks his guest “Will’t please you sit and look at her?” However, the Duke’s Duchess did not share the same sentiments towards him and the mood of the poem quickly changes because “t’was not/ Her husband’s presence only, called that spot/ Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek.” The Duke then charges a list of complaints against his Duchess serving as a dark justification for his orders to kill her and “stop her smiles altogether.”Browning uses interjects into the sentences by splitting them apart with line breaks, placing emphasis on certain words. This literary technique sets the poem towards the Duke’s resolve of placing his orders, by creating a stark contrast with negatively-connotated words associated with the Duchess. Browning also utilizes meter and rhyming, yet his rhyming simply drives the poem rather than creating a conclusion to the line.This poem is eerie and somewhat depressing, since the Duke disposes of his own wife so easily rather than taking a more peaceful or appropriate course of action instead. In these times, those of nobility could exercise their power freely and this poem serves as an example of such.
My Last DuchessIs there a more ominous way to give a guest a tour of the house? "Well, here's the kitchen- we just got a new stovetop- and oh! Here's that picture of the wife I had killed just a little while ago! I can't wait to get married again."The thing is, Browning manages to convey that same (or at least, similar) information with compelling subtlety. There is no hysterical confession, nor is it simply Basil Exposition. The Duke's emotions fluctuate, but if he forgets that he is playing host, that moment is only a second long. He might be musing on the confusing nature of a misbehaving puppy, were it not for the harsher words towards the end of his explanation, when he leans towards the sardonic, with his "Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,/ Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without/ Much the same smile?" Imagining the cutting tone of voice to attend the cutting words is something few poets allow the audience, and in so fascinating a fashion.The poem does not seem to me particularly Romantic in style, though perhaps I let the idea of it as a narrative distract me from the fact that it really is caught up in the idea of the individual. It is simply that this individual is more shrouded than the ones oft portrayed in Romantic poetry. The allusions to nature are few as well, offered only in glimpses of the late Duchess' life: "The dropping of the daylight in the West, /The bough of cherries some officious fool/ Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule/ She rode with round the terrace", and perhaps it is to show the Duchess as the Romantic, whilst the Duke, who has nothing but scorn for these things, as the opposition poets of the time were up against. For while some may see the Duchess as a flirt, the picture I see painted is of a man so controlling and suspicious that he misconstrued a woman full of the joie de vivre for a temptress, and that portrait is the one that makes the poem interesting.
My Last DuchessThe speaker in this poem, while giving a tour of his home and admiring a painting of his late wife, ultimately admits to having her murdered and lists her imperfections, revealing the hatred he felt for her and the way she acted. The way he admits to what he's done is subtle enough to overlook, or to misinterpret, but once detected is obvious enough. The the speaker seems suspcious and jealous, as he goes on about how he was considered equal to other "inferior" people she enjoyed spending time with and getting attention from. While he's creepy and controlling, the way he interprets his dead wife's actions display the power of imagination-the conclusions he came to from seemingly small actions of his wife drove him to cause her murder.
My Last DuchessThe most surprising thing about Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess” to me was the utter lack of nearly anything natural. However, what the poem does not discuss about nature it makes up for in its exploration of the individual as he, or she, relates to society. The duchess was not killed because of her infidelity, which was most likely imagined, but instead by the astoundingly powerful belief of the Duke that infidelity is the worst of Sins. Through the Duke’s subtle yet insane rants we are guided to believe that the Duchess may not have been at all unfaithful and instead was the victim of her husband’s instability. The Duke killed her because of overwhelming social indoctrination that sexual freedom is an immoral thing made him constantly on the lookout for it, to the point where he even imagined it. Therefore it is ultimately the suppression of the natural individual that killed the duchess. This commentary on civilization is further seen in the flowery, refined tone and verses of the poem. While the poem and the Duke may be the epitome of properness, they both subtly hold a terrifying secret. The juxtaposition between the cultured manner of the Duke and his actions points out that goodness is not by necessity inherent in proper things. It is because of that same juxtaposition that I was slightly ill at ease after reading this poem. There is something disconcerting about listening to refined words that show the insanity of the speaker. I had a similar feeling after watching Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs discuss eating people in the most polite manner possible.
The Imagination of “My Last Duchess,” by Robert Browning, is what makes it romantic. The poet writes in first person as a different person than he is in reality. From this perspective, he addresses murder and sex, portraying behavior considered primitive and uncivilized, which is another concept of Romanticism. Browning gradually exposes the background information of the poem to the reader. He forces the reader to delve into the story to figure out what is happening and what has happened. When I read the poem, I did not know exactly how I felt. It seemed as though the poem’s tone went between admiration and foreboding. The narrator admires the aesthetics of the painting, saying, “I call that piece a wonder,” but he also implies warning to the servant of his future wife’s father by telling him the story of his former wife’s implied infidelity and murder.
My first thoughts after reading this poem were of a charming villain. The Duke speaks so subtly and lightly of his actions that he might as well be discussing the weather. He is terribly polite and cordial, and when I say terribly I mean it with the negative connotation of the word. It is truly terrible the matter-o-fact way that he regards murdering his wife. He is charming and makes it easy to get lost in his eloquent and gentile descriptions. Its not hard to imagine that he puts more stress on his gentlemanly demeanor than the content of his words, almost as if he could forget what he is talking about and it wouldn't make much difference. To me this poem feels like a glimpse into the mind of a psychopathic ethical crusader. He justifies his actions through a combination of belittling the atrocity itself and advocating the righteousness of putting an end to her imagined treachery. Interestingly enough, the Duke represents the opposite of the "noble savage", aka; the "ennoble gentleman". By way of this unspoken comparison, the author devalues the societal virtues of the gentleman through a subtle indirect satire.
"My Last Duchess"I already responded to "My Last Duchess" on the "Romanticism (Students)" page before this page was created. I say this because I want you to know that I created the post on time (early), and so it was completed and it is most certainly not late.- Peter Washington
When i read the poem, i thought the man was mad. He was seemingly obsessed with this woman, and was reminiscing about how she was too easily happy. Men would usually be content with a woman so easily pleased, but to this man it concerned him and drove him to kill her. She was "too easily impressed" and i guess the man could not handle it. He starts off telling of how her beauty was captured, and that his presence called her a spot of joy, but then so did everything else. He is so subtle about it, and he does not feel bad about what he did at all. He has captured her essence in the picture and no longer needs her at all. now her picture brings joy to everyone who looks at her and does not know, while in life she was brought joy by everything that she looked upon.
After reading this poem, my initial reaction was that this man was presented as a man who loves his wife dearly, yet presents some extreme flaws. It is extremely exaggerated, he loves this women very much, but she is too easily pleased, and has a free spirit, which may baffle him. I feel that the murder of his wife is caused by her being the idle woman and how having everything made for a person diminishing meaning from their life.
My Last DuchessWhen I first read this poem in class, the words that Browning used gave off this striking image of a man killing his wife - a very indeed tragic and sad image to think of. The man was mad, madly in love with this woman of high infidelity, who was pretty much happy with all she got, that her existence drove him crazy. The painting he is looking at while telling his story of his murder is that of his wife ('the last duchess') and it is amazing that Browning presents this man as one with such free spirit that he is able to happily and gladly claim that he murdered his wife. This poem I believe is successful in bringing suspense to the reader, who at first does not understand the man's faults until he recalls that moment when 'all smiles stopped altogether', then the entire meaning of the poem changes. I personally was somewhat freaked out by this poem but I was able to see the essence and nature of man by reading this, and in many ways this poem truly is romantic.
"My Last Duchess"In this poem the narrator (the duke) expresses his love for his wife who has died. However, as he speaks of how he loved her there is a distinct tone of bitterness present and one is led to think that while he loved his wife he also despised her in other ways. While the duke reflects he is sorely reminded "sir, 't was not Her husband's presence only, called that spot Of joy into the Duchess' cheek," a good indication that while he loved his wife there was a jealous streak in their relationship. Throughout the poem the Duke recalls why he was so jealous and says "She thanked men - good! but thanked Somehow - I know not how - as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody's gift." From those lines I finally came to understand that he was jealous because of her possible relationships with other men. Throughout the whole poem there's a vibe of bitterness and regret apparent and this lead me to suspect that he had a hand in his wife's death that makes the poem that much more tragic.
While reading this poem, i searched intensivly for some of Romantisims key concepts. Unfourtanatly, this peom seems to lack them. After reading it, i realized it was about a man who holds some sort of anger towards the woman in the picture. He seems to display digcust in a angry-deranged manner. He also seems to be disguted at the painting. Possibly having to do with the manner she presents in the potrait. He sees her as a decieving whore, while the potrait presents her as the opposite. He is mad because the potrait captures her in a way that hides her true personality.