To the reader the minting seems to be of a beautiful woman who was always happy and Joyful, as described by the Duke, but the Duke does not tell any memories of her where he really expresses how he had made her happy or show how beautiful she truly was. This poem largely focuses around one narrative voice who we suspect as the Duke of Ferrara; giving the emissary of his prospective new wife a tour of the artworks in his home. The Duke begins reminiscing about the portrait sessions, then about the Duchess herself. The most engaging element of the poem is probably the speaker himself, the duke. Browning uses the dramatic monologue form very skillfully to show us the controlling, jealous, and arrogant traits the duke possessed without ever mentioning them explicitly.
We can imagine what fiendish fun the poet must have had playing with these. As they become actively involved in the interpretation of the poem, readers are compelled to question their own responses to the subject portrayed. His pride in his status and possessions recur as a theme throughout the poem. An obsessive Duke shows a visitor, and readers, a painting of his last wife. Woman were not viewed as people at the time the story of the poem takes place, but as property.
In this poem, loosely inspired by real events set in Renaissance Italy, the duke reveals himself not only as a model of culture but also as a monster of morality. Another element of the aristocratic life that Browning approaches in the poem is that of repetition. But after reading the whole poem it is obvious that the Duke is actually talking to a currier sent to see if the Duke is worthy of marrying the daughter of his master. This is an irony to the beginning of the poem, where the Duke is praising the portrait. We see this clearly in the use of language and imagery. Trapped by her gaze, which so captivates its viewers, as Medusa turned her onlookers to stone, the Duke feels compelled to undermine her power by accusing her of excess. In his dramatic monologues, he looks at life from different perspectives.
At the end of the monologue, the reader clearly understands the theme that money and power cannot buy love and that marriages between the upper class citizens of the Renaissance era were predominately business transactions. 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. The attempt to evade the reality of the other as an active agent is an interesting feature that is seen throughout the monologue. A remarkably amoral man nevertheless has a lovely sense of beauty and of how to engage his listener. Also deciding about to kill a woman just because of her nature which is telling in the poems is the reflection of psycopathic nature of men. Also in these lines, we are given our first hint that the duchess really not all that important to the duke; he speaks of the painting as if it was the duchess, suggesting that his late wife was nothing more than her external appearance. As the poem progresses, we find more mention of the duke's love of control and realize that it is a very important thing to him.
By combining dramatic monologue, irony, precise diction, and imagery together, Browning is able to produce his desired haunting effect. As the poem unfolds, the audience learns the speaker of the poem, Duke Ferrara, is talking to another male character and begins to tell the story of his previous wife. With this he is confessing that he could not control her then or now, he could only hide her away, or kill her. Even if he did not kill his wife, he certainly has something to hide. Suddenly the Duke berates his wife, in indirect quotations again, offering us a window into their private life.
. The Victorians are the poor unfortunates who come between the Romantics and the Modernists. The Duke tries to distract us with courtesy but even as he controls the story of his wife and her image, his emotion exceeds his control and exposes his crimes. Browning invites us to make a connection between looking, reading, and interpreting. Also in one of the last lines of the poem the Duke shows his visitor a statue of Neptune taming a sea-horse. The Duke has put a curtain over his dead wife's portrait and only he reveals it when and to whom he choose. The nobleman does not hurry on his way to business, the connoisseur cannot resist showing off yet another precious object, the possessive egoist counts up his possessions, even as he moves towards the acquirement of a new possession, a well dowered bride and most important, the last duchess is seen in final perspective.
The climax of the poem occurs in these lines where he describes what happened when his wife's affection continued to be non-exclusive, the duchess' smiles to the other men aroused an anger in the duke so powerful that he gave commands to have her killed. The poems I will be discussing all a murder that occurs within a marriage or a relationship. A portrait of his previous wife is covered by this curtain. We could have a different reading of this very same part of the poem, finding again the irony that Browning is looking for: the irony in the painting. The first element, the one of a lasting impression, will be the first idea explored to determine if this criterion is met by the poem. Yet, such absolute control puts the listener on guard.
This surface meaning of this poem is that to marry the girl is the duke's object, aim, or goal. Irony, much like dramatic monologue, can make the reader question the true underlying meaning of the passage. The form of the dramatic monologue requires reader participation to discover meaning as they piece together the incongruities and omitted facts with what the Duke overtly says and what his speech implies. The duke is so possessive of his duchess that he can not stand her even smiling at anyone but him. The combination of villain and aesthete in the Duke creates an especially strong tension, and Browning exploits the combination to the fullest. The Duke is not a modest man, but him making this seemingly humble statement in the midst of all his power stricken remarks establishes situational irony.
The writer points out that Browning uses irony to chilling effectiveness as he illustrates the Duke's quiet tyranny over his last young wife. By intertwining moral issues and artistic expertise, Browning demonstrates the paradoxical nature of art—its ability to demoralize through desensitization, as well as its necessity to portray such issues of moral degradation. Also at play psychologically is the human ability to rationalize our hang-ups. Summary This poem is loosely based on historical events involving Alfonso, the Duke of Ferrara, who lived in the 16th century. This demand for control is also reflected in his relationship with the envoy.
The speaker feels that his wife should have been more grateful to him for marrying her, as if she were the luckiest woman on earth for him to have chosen her. There she stands As if alive. An initial reading of the poem leads the reader to assume that the poet intends for the reader to infer that art is unimportant, and simply serves as an aesthetic pleasure. The dominating image the Duke paints of himself by describing his last wife creates an eerie effect. The speaker of the poem exhibits arrogance rooted in his audacious sense of greed and dominance over others. Robert Browning alarmed his Victorian readers with psychological — and sometimes psychopathic — realism, wild formal experiments, and harsh-sounding language.