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My Last Duchess

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Not Caring

on 26 September 2013

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Transcript of My Last Duchess

My Last Duchess
Robert Browning
The Poem
Poem Analysis
Literary Criticism/Commentary
By Robert Browning
1812 - 1889
Pauline: A Fragment of a Confession
Styles of poems
Father's personal library
His Thoughts
Victorian Era
Decides to write more
Strafford and Sordello
Written in 1842
Louis S. Friedland
Alfonso II
"My Last Duchess" Paraphrased
- enjambment
Attitude and Tone
Shift in Tone
Breakdown of "My Last Duchess"
Fra Pandolf and Claus of Innsbruck
Flaws of portrait
-eerily descriptive
Point of View: Duke
Allusions: - Neptune
- Bane
Learned from the Duchess
Learned from the Duke
Constrictive relationships
Simile: (l. 2)
" looking as if she were alive"

That's my last wife in that painting on the wall.
She looks as if she is alive.
I think it's a wonderful painting by Fra Pandolf.
He worked for a day on the painting.
Look at her!
I had to mention that Fra Pandolf painted this because
strangers like you always look at the depth and striking emotion of this woman's face and think I painted it, as I am the one who shows everyone the painting.
Everyone asks me how she could have such an amazing expression. You are
not the first to ask me that. Well,
it was not just her husband who made her look happy.
Maybe Fra Pandolf suggested "Her cloak covers her wrist too much" or
"Simple paint cannot capture her intoxicating natural color."
If she heard these statements, she would just call it flattery,
and blush happily at the compliment. She had
a heart (how should I say this?) that became happy too easily and quickly.
Her heart was too easily impressed. She liked
anything she looked at, and she looked at everything and everyone.
There in the painting is my gift to her, pinned at her breast.
The sun was setting in the west.
There is a cherry branch some idiot
broke off of a tree in the orchard for her, the white mule
she rode around outside the house, everything
would make her show her happiness,
or at least blush. She thanked men, which was fine. But she thanked them
in a way that made it as if my famous 900 year old name and ancestry
I gifted her was in the same category as what other men gifted her. Who

Personification: (l. 24)
"her looks went everywhere"
- (l. 3-4)
- (l. 22)
- (l. 26)

Rhythm: Iambic Pentameter (Conversational)

- (l. 1) "That's MY last DUCHess PAINTed ON the WALL..."
Rhyme: End rhyme
Beginning : Excited, Engaged
Middle: Line 27 - Infuriated, sinister
End: Line 53 - Indifferent
Sentence Structure
Complex and cut off
Deceivingly song-like
Imagery: (l. 27-29)
"The bough of cherries..."
Speaker's Tone
Soft, shrouded anger
Very selfish
Suggests impure woman
Duchess's beauty and flaws
-Highly desired
*Heart is shared
would condemn this kind of trivial and meaningless behavior? Even if you
were an excellent speaker (I am not), and could clearly tell her
"This disgusts me, you are wrong in this situation, you have gone too far" and she did not fight back, didn't make up excuses or argue,
Even that would be demeaning, and I have decided to never demean myself.
Every time I walked past her, she smiled at me, but who has ever walked past her and has not gotten the same smile from her? This got worse.
I began to give her commands,
and she stopped smiling from that point onward. There she is in the painting, as if she were alive. Can you get up please? Let us go
downstairs and meet everyone. I repeat,
the giving nature of your master, the Count
makes me feel reassured that no request of a dowry by me will be refused.
But of course, what I truly want is the Count's beautiful daughter as my wife. This is my purpose.
Let us venture downstairs. Look at this sculpture of Neptune,
who is taming a seahorse. It is extremely rare.
The artist, Claus of Innusbruck constructed the sculpture out of bronze!

Poet's Tone
Black humor
Connotation Continued
Question 1
By looking at the title, what do you think the poem will be about?
William 0. Raymond
Slowly reveal characters
Clyde de L. Ryals
Purposely artistic jargon
-Fra Pandolf
-to seem "cultured"
(l. 19) "Half-flush that dies along her throat."
(l. 21) "spot of joy..."
(l. 27) "...officious fool"
(l. 33) "My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name..."
Details Omitted
Details Included
His wrongdoings
Question 3
How do you think the Duke's background in a well regarded family contributes to how he treated his last duchess?
Question 2
Why do you think the Duke is trying so hard to mask his anger towards the portrait?
Presented by Courtney Loi and Bill Lieu
(Bill Lieu and Courtney Loi)
Full transcript