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 FerraraAnd 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 turnsTo the portrait of the Duke’s dead wife.
8 “That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. “
11 Where the Duke can enjoy it by himself Behind a curtainWhere 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 notHer husband's presence only, called that spotOf 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?”…………………………………….. PaintMust never hope to reproduce the faintHalf-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.
22 “the white mule she rode with round the terrace”
23 These things were all the same to her. “………………………………………all and eachWould 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 skillIn speech -- (which I have not) -- to make your willQuite clear to such an one, and say, "Just thisOr that in you disgusts me; here you miss,Or there exceed the mark" -- and if she letHerself be lessoned so, nor plainly setHer wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,--E'en then would be some stooping, and I chooseNever 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 rankedMy gift of a nine-hundred-years-old nameWith anybody's gift.What do the dashes in the middle of thelines 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 DukeFeels 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 difficulteven if you were skilled with words.“…………..Even had you skillIn 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 withoutMuch 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 standsAs 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 pretenceOf 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 wifethat he literally kills herand lives with her dead substitute, a work of art."