To some extent, the duke's amorality can be understood in terms of aristocracy. The obvious manifestation of this is the murder of his wife. He praises old age as having the understanding that escapes youth, which attempts to constantly seize the day. But it hardly seems a coincidence that this conversation is clearly taking place in a gallery of objects - he's got the painting, he's got the bronze of Neptune taming a seahorse or whatever. It totally is, and it's because Browning is a master of speech. The duke shows the envoy a painting of his former wife, whom he had killed for having been so flirtatious.
In 1605 or 1606, Webster married Sara Peniall, a 17-year-old girl who was seven months pregnant at the time. We're going to talk it through and talk about how the character of this guy emerges and how we get a very creepy feeling as it goes along. So here we go: That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. An object of such compelling verity and beauty, the portrait so bothers the Duke that he keeps it hidden and under his power, as we can surmise he kept his wife, and perhaps this next Duchess, in his castle. The duchess died under suspicious circumstances on April 21, 1561, just two years after he married her. Having such an unlikeable speaker is really interesting, and it's not something we get in your normal speaker-describing-stuff kind of poem. Yet, perhaps Browning was observing fellow members of when he crafted the devious lines of Duke Ferrera.
It would be tempting to suggest Browning wants to paint him as a weasel, but knowing the poet's love of language, it's clear that he wants us to admire a character who can manipulate language so masterfully. The poem is written in 28 rhyming couplets, in , and its speaker is a Duke talking about his late wife to the father of his second wife-to-be. The city was the seat of an important principality ruled by the House of Este from 1208 to 1598. This is a little difficult to parse. It's about him thinking she's being flirtatious with lots of other men. And yet he is impressively charming, both in his use of language and his affable address.
The emissary might well have wondered whether the duke regarded himself as Neptune and the sea horse as the duchess. It engages the reader on a number of levels — historical, psychological, ironic, theatrical, and more. Lesson Objective After watching this lesson, you should be able to describe the subject and meaning of Browning's 'My Last Duchess. As he shows the visitor through his palace, he stops before a portrait of the late Duchess, apparently a young and lovely girl. There she stands As if alive. The ironic disconnect that colors most of Browning's monologues is particularly strong here.
Even had you skill In speech - which I have not - to make your will Quite clear to such an 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 Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse, --E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose Never to stoop. Clearly, Browning used what Keats called negative capability to invent a character that was strikingly unlike his own: a vicious, controlling duke whose morals and beliefs contrasted with those of the poet. The first contradiction to consider is how charming the duke actually is. However, if the duke executed a faithful, kind-hearted wife who failed to revere her husband above all others, then we are witnessing a monologue performed by a monster. It's basically just a speech in a particular character's voice, and part of the point is the character of the speaker. A nasty glee in composition, here in a simple dash; a fascination with embodying violence, here in a mark. Instead, readers can imagine a specific setting and detect action and reaction based on the hints given within the verse.
A mark, a limit, a measurement, a bruise, a dab of paint, a stroke of ink on the page. Lines 1 and 2 of the poem demonstrate the iambic-pentameter pattern. Barrett's father, although not a murderous lord from the 16th-century, he was a controlling patriarch who demanded that his daughters stay faithful to him, that they never move out of the home, not even to marry. What the emissary plans to tell the count about the duke is open to question. Characters Speaker or Narrator : The speaker is the Duke of Ferrara. He's talking to an emissary from the count whose daughter he wants to marry next. There's certainly no explicit evidence of this, but at the same time, it's plausible that a man as arrogant as the duke, especially one so equipped with the power of euphemism, would avoid spelling out his disgrace to a lowly envoy and instead would speak around the issue.
We'll meet The company below, then. It first appeared in Browning's 1842 essay collection Dramatic Lyrics. Notice Neptune, though, Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity, Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me! Now we get to the end: Nay, we'll go Together down, sir. We see that he thinks she should be grateful to him for getting a 'nine-hundred-years-old name. It goes on; the poem's not done yet. Another element of the aristocratic life that Browning approaches in the poem is that of repetition.
No, but she does understand these material objects. Like the duke who coveted his precious artwork, Barrett's father wanted to keep hold of his children as if they were inanimate figures in a gallery. Unaware, he gives us a clear vision of the open-hearted Duchess: She had A heart—how shall I say? More than 20ty books are published. The speaker of the poem exhibits an arrogance rooted in an audacious sense of male superiority. He's a servant of this count, whose daughter the Duke of Ferrara is planning on marrying next.
And now we understand who the listener is. He read widely from his father's extensive rare book collection, acquiring an abundant, if unsystematic, knowledge of a broad range of different literatures. In the opening lines Browning sets the scene for the poem, focusing the reader's imagination on the painting on the wall. I repeat, The Count your master's known munificence Is ample warrant that no just pretence Of mine for dowry will be disallowed; Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed At starting is my object. After all, the duke has no interest in talking to her himself, as we have learned! The principal story of The Duchess of Malfi is factual. The Duke consistently describes the Duchess in of passivity or excess.