"My Last Dutchess" In depth analysis

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That's my last duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will't please you sit and look at her? I said
"Fra Pandolf" by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
That depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain drawn for you, but I) [10]
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 't was not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say "Her mantle laps
Over my lady's wrist too much" or "Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat:" such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough [20]
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart - how shall I say? - too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed: she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 't was all one! My favour at her ***,
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 -all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech, [30]
Or blush,at least. 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. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech - (which I have not) - to make your will
Quite clear to such a one, and say, "Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss
Or there exceed the mark"- and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set [40]
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse
- E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will 't please you rise? We'll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence [50]
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting is my object. Nay, we'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me.

We read this poem in class, and although I have an excellent English teacher…he fails to give feedback on ideas. I was wondering if you guys could read the poem, read my analysis, and just throw some feedback to me, add to the idea if you can. Or tell me if I’m just all together wrong.

We can draw from the poem that he views his wife as a prize, whose beauty, “paint could not hope to reproduce”. You can also draw that he thinks his greatest gift to her was his 900 year old name (this noble title), and the wealth that comes with it.

If you look at the first part you can see how he views his wife as being beautiful and tells sort of, why he wanted her as his wife. She was beautiful, kind hearted, and easy to please. But as the poem goes on there is a different twist to it. It shows how when she received these lavish gifts of his he didn’t really win over her love, he wasn’t special.

My favour at her ***,
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 -all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech, [30]
Or blush,at least. 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 this point on, look at the anger that starts to stream out.

Even had you skill
In speech - (which I have not) - to make your will
Quite clear to such a one, and say, "Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss
Or there exceed the mark"-
He has all this money and has her as a prize but through all this, his money has not been able to buy over her love. No matter what he gives her she still looks on him as she does everyone else, no special smile to him.

I get a sense that he abused her. Forced her into his submission, forced her to give him a look that she gave to no one else.

Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together.

He reached a point of rage where he couldn’t handle that smile, one of courtesy not of true love, he gave commands, he beat her, both their smiles stopped.

He also says that he didn’t like to stoop, but in these cases some stooping was necessary. That beating his wife was something a lowly poor drunk would do, and not a gentleman of his stature.

It also explains the look that she has in her eyes, you get the sense of a look of fear…of a dread, that was the look that she behold only to him.
That depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain drawn for you, but I) [10]
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus.
You can sort of guess that the “But to myself they turned (since none puts by the curtain drawn for you, but I” Is his control that he has over that look. It is only him who the look is bestowed upon and it his only his right to be able to look upon that look. That look of his control his power. He views that painting as a prize, just as he viewed his wife when she was alive.

And going along with the theory of him murdering her, when this abuse didn’t control her, he had her killed, or maybe she died under the abuse.

This theory of his abuse, of his control is shown in the last thing he says to his guest.
Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me.

He views Neptune’s taming of the sea-horse, forcing it into submission and then putting it as artwork. He tamed this women, forced her to give him a look that she gave to no one else, and now he has that look captured forever in a piece of art. Just as the Neptune piece.
New Member04
Getting there Mr. Joe. I suggest you read this thread, which is all about this poem. My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
Senior Member2,657
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I read that....but it is all sort of vague not as specific.
I'm sorry you found the six pages on this poem vague and non-specific, Mr. Joe. maybe if you try to read the thread again, you will come across some answers to your questions.
If you look at the first part you can see how he views his wife as being beautiful and tells sort of, why he wanted her as his wife. She was beautiful, kind hearted, and easy to please. But as the poem goes on there is a different twist to it. It shows how when she received these lavish gifts of his he didn’t really win over her love, he wasn’t special.


Is it his wife who is beautiful, or the portarait? Does he admire the fact that she was easy to please? does he want her love?

This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together.


Did he really beat her?
Go back and read the whole thread again, Joe. I think you'll find everything there. Emotion: smile
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.
Anonymous:
well u have a point
Anonymous:
The Duke orders his wife's assassination: 'i gave commands;/then all smiles stopped together'
Anonymous:
your 'in depth analysis' is inadaquate as u failed to mention anything about the rythmic pentameter, the enjambment and the duke's character eg his callousness, his grotesquely avarious personality etc
Anonymous:
http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/288.html

read this, it gives some historical background on the post.

As some people are not really reading it, the word last means what it means. Last, past, gone. The girl is not longer there to be admire on.

This could be sort of late but always a chance to gain something late the never.
Anonymous:
Mr Joe....I am writing a paper on 'My Last Duchess' and have found your article very helpful, and I would like to use some of the info in my paper and for that I have to cite an authors name. Is there any way I could get this information from you?
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