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My Last Duchess Robert Browning

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Presentation on theme: "My Last Duchess Robert Browning"— Presentation transcript:

1 My Last Duchess Robert Browning
One of the pre-1914 poems from the AQA anthology. You have to answer on 2 of these in the exam.

2 My Last Duchess

3 What is the poem about? The Duke is talking about his dead wife - the Duchess. The starting point is her portrait on the wall…

4 The poem is about how the Duke was made
angry by some of the things his wife did. She “died.” We’re not told exactly how she died. Her portrait hangs on the wall.

5 The poem is a dramatic monologue.
This means the poem is written in the “voice’ of a character rather than the voice of the poet. The character who is speaking is… With a dramatic monolgue there is an “audience” in the poem - the person who is listening to the speaker. In dramatic monlogues the reader or the person listening to the poem, builds up a picture of what’s happening. It’ similar to overhearing a conversation - you’re not told everything!

6 And he is speaking to his visitor…
The Duke of Ferrara And he is speaking to his visitor… The count’s envoy. Envoy is a representative, of a high social standing. The poem is set in the duke’s palace in the Italian city-state of Ferrara around But the poem was written in 1842.

7 The count’s envoy has been sent to discuss
a dowry, as the Duke is looking for a new wife: the next duchess. While they are talking the conversation turns To the portrait of the Duke’s dead wife.

8 “That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. “


10 The picture is kept hidden

11 Where the Duke can enjoy it by himself
Behind a curtain Where the Duke can enjoy it by himself

12 “looking as if she were alive.”
This suggests that in painting the portrait the painter did an excellent job. It’s also ironic when we learn more about her death.

13 “Frà Pandolf's hands worked busily a day,”
Frà Pandolf was the painter of the portrait.

14 When the Duke draws back the curtain the envoy
sees in the Duchess’expression: “The depth and passion of its earnest glance,”

15 We can see from the line below that the Count’s envoy
has asked how “the glance” or “spot of joy” came to be there.” “so, not the first are you to turn and ask thus.”

16 The Duke explains what happened:
“ Sir, 'twas not Her husband's presence only, called that spot Of joy into the Duchess' cheek:” It wasn’t just me, her husband, who brought pleasure to her face.

17 Perhaps Fra Pandolf had paid
her a compliment when painting the picture? ”…………………………………….. Paint Must never hope to reproduce the faint Half-flush that dies along her throat"

18 She probably thought the painter was being courteous.
But she was”too easily impressed” And “her looks went everywhere” You can see the Duke was jealous.

19 Everything was the same to her- of equal importance.
“Sir, 'twas all one!” Everything was the same to her- of equal importance. “My favour at her breast.” “Favour” - the Dukes presence alongside her. “Favour” was literally a ribbon in the Duke’s colours.

20 Other things that were on equal importance were:
A sunset.

21 “The bough of cherries”

22 “the white mule she rode with round the terrace”

23 These things were all the same to her.
“………………………………………all and each Would draw from her alike the approving speech, Or blush, at least. Refers back to the “blush” in the portrait”: this has sparked off this train of thought.

24 In speech -- (which I have not) -- to make your will
………………………………………..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. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt, Mention enjambement. How thoughts rush out, and accelerate, almost uncontrollably, rather then finishing at the end of a line

25 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. What do the dashes in the middle of the lines suggest? Mention caesura. Discuss the idea of the Duke struggling to find the words, as he tries to make sense of what happened. Mention enjambement. How thoughts rush out, and accelerate, almost uncontrollably, rather then finishing at the end of a line.

26 “My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name”
What does this tell you about how the Duke Feels about his name? Discuss reputation. How would the Duke say this line? What does it reveal about his feelings?

27 The Duke considers telling his wife
how she has offended him but this is difficult even if you were skilled with words. “…………..Even had you skill In speech -- (which I have not) --”

28 “I choose never to stoop.”
But to tell her “here you disgust me” or “exceed the mark.” involves stooping and “I choose never to stoop.” He uses the word “stoop” or “stooping” three times, which suggests he is proud of his aristocratic position. What other lines in the poem tell us that the Duke is a proud man? How the would the Duke say “I choose never to stoop?” Does he reveal what he is like intentionally or unintentionally?

29 Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without Much the same smile? What does this show about the Duke/ How does it fit in with what we’ve already learned about him?

30 …………………………………….I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands As if alive. What’s happened here? The Duke seems to be missing out some details. What were the “commands” he gave? Mention euphemism. Where is it being used here? What other euphemisms do people use for death or killing?

31 Will't please you rise? This part of the conversation is over.

32 The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence Of mine for dowry will be disallowed; The Duke has now moved onto the subject of his “next Duchess.” The dowry is not an issue.

33 Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. The Duke wants the ‘fair daughter” of the Count.

34 Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Notice Neptune, though, Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity, Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me! Another of the Duke’ “art treasures.”

35 “The mad duke...cannot love without so possessing
and destroying the identity of his wife that he literally kills her and lives with her dead substitute, a work of art."


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