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My Last Duchess. Things to know… The poem is based on real historical events Alfonso II of Modena and Ferrara (1559-1597) married Lucrezia de Doctors.

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Presentation on theme: "My Last Duchess. Things to know… The poem is based on real historical events Alfonso II of Modena and Ferrara (1559-1597) married Lucrezia de Doctors."— Presentation transcript:

1 My Last Duchess

2 Things to know… The poem is based on real historical events Alfonso II of Modena and Ferrara ( ) married Lucrezia de Doctors and she died 4 years later in mysterious circumstances The Duke had commissioned Fra Pandolf to paint a picture of his wife The poem is a dramatic monologue = the poet adopts the voice of someone else

3 Lines 1 to 5 Ferrara That's my last duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. I call That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf's hands Worked busily a day, and there she stands. Will't please you sit and look at her? I said Fra Pandolf is an imaginary painter We immediately learn from this section that the speaker is powerful and wealthy The painting is realistic From this line it becomes clear that the Duke is talking to someone

4 Lines 6 to 10 "Frà Pandolf" by design, for never read Strangers like you that pictured countenance, The depth and passion of its earnest glance, But to myself they turned (since none puts by The curtain I have drawn for you, but I) Countenance = face The duke reveals in this section that the painting is normally covered by a curtain – this suggests that the Duke is a man who is usually obeyed. The duke says that whenever people see the painting they usually ask him what caused the look of depth and passion in the duchess’ face Notice that the duke doesn’t refer to the duchess as ‘her’

5 Lines 11 to 15 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, 'twas not Her husband's presence only, called that spot Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps Frà Pandolf chanced to say "Her mantle laps Durst = dared Mantle = a cloak The duke tells the visitor that it was not just the presence of himself that made the duchess blush. He seems to have been jealous that other men paid her attention – something she clearly enjoyed as it brought a ‘spot of joy’ to her face!

6 Lines 16 to 20 "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 For calling up that spot of joy. She had The duke seems to see the artist as some kind of rival.

7 Lines 21 to 25 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, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast, The dropping of the daylight in the West, Favour = an object (such as a brooch) that is worn as a token of affection The duke expands on his wife’s faults. He says she was too easily impressed ‘she liked whate’ver’ Some precious brooch pinned on her breast and given to her by the duke was given the same importance as the sunset or some cherries bought to her by a servant or riding a white mule.

8 Lines 26 to 30 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, Or blush, at least. She thanked men good! but thanked Officious = too forward in offering unwelcome or unwanted services

9 Lines 31 to 35 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 The title of the Duke of Ferrara was created 900 years before the poem was written Line 33 reveals the duke’s arrogance about his title and position. He talks about his title and clearly feels his position should had been given more respect from his wife. He calls his name ‘his gift’ which suggests he thinks she should have been more grateful. Also this shows his arrogance. The word ‘stoop’ is important because it shows how high up the duke feels he is

10 Lines 36 to 40 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 make excuse, Forsooth = truly

11 Lines 41 to 46 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 duchess always smiled at the duke when she passed him but it seems she smiled at everyone. So the duke gave some orders and had his wife murdered ‘There she stands/As if alive’ suggests the wife was murdered

12 Lines 47 to 56 The company below, then. 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. 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! The count, your master = this phrase is important because it makes clear the speaker of the poem is talking to the servant of a count, who is visiting to discuss the marriage of his daughter Munificence = generosity Nay = no Neptune = God of the sea An imaginary sculptor The duke suggests they go downstairs The duke expects a large dowry for his next marriage even though he is only interested in the daughter. The statue is important because it shows Neptune taming a sea- horse like the duke ‘tamed’ the duchess The last word shows the duke’s self-centredness

13 Other points Browning writes in rhyming couplets of ten syllables The enjambment reveals the compulsive attitude of the duke The casual sounding poem shows the pride and arrogance of the aristocracy Is a portrait of a murderer Shows the corruption of money Shows the domination of men over women


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