My last duchess
My Last Duchess Question: Write about a poem set well In the past, but which remains relevant today. Explain why, despite the difference In time, the mall concerns of the poem remains relevant to you. A poem which is set well in the past but remains relevant in today’s society is ‘My Last Duchess’ by Robert Browning.
The poem remains relevant today as even nowadays there are people who possess similar characteristics as the Duke; the abusive use of power in some societies is still relevant in some communities.
Despite the obvious change in time and society, there are still people who are egotistical and controlling; unman nature remains unaltered even with time. Before the poem even begins we are immediately struck by the ambiguity of the title itself. We are left to wonder how many duchesses has the duke had, who Is his last duchess nor do we know If the “last” Indicates the final duchess or Just the previous one. The poem begins by the duke leading an emissary around his castle, acting as a tour.
He begins by reminiscing about the painting of his last duchess and the reader comes to realize the Duke’s cold character as he describes the painting as “the depth and passion of TTS earnest glance”. He refers to the girl as “its” instead of her, indicating she is of little worth to him. This dehumidifies her and further suggests the duke has developed a better relationship with the painting than the he had with the woman It represents.
We also come to understand here that the duke is possessive and demands to be obeyed “since none puts by the curtain I have drawn for you, but l” he chooses who does or does not see the duchess- something he could not achieve when she was alive. This shows the overwhelming control that the duke has over the ouches even after death- he cuts even her portrait off from what she loved: life. The woman has clearly died time ago but the possessive duke still requires control over her, suggesting a threatening and controlling relationship which can sadly sully be seen in today’s society to confirm this disturbing suggestion.
Later in the Poem the Duke describes his wife’s imperfections and we are introduced to his egotism, which reined her in. We are told by the duke that twats not Her husband’s presence only, called that spot Of Joy into the Duchess’ cheek twats not Her husband’s presence only, called that spot twats not Of Joy Into the Duchess’ cheek ‘twats not her husband’s presence only, called that spot of Joy into the Duchess”. The duke is explaining to the envoy that he was not the source of her happiness which suggests he is representing the fact she gained pleasure from other things in life besides the duke.
His egotism and extreme self-obsession are highlighted here, painting a picture of a man who is very dominating. Moreover the duke’s dramatic monologue indicates that the duchess was subjugated when she was with him and unable to express her own opinions and feelings. The ‘spot of Joy in the duchess emphasizes the duchess’s simple character, innocent, youthful zest for, Joy in, life. It is as if his power has made him evolve into becoming a very unpleased and domineering husband. In contrast to him, the duchess has a respectful and vibrant character which is further emphasized when the duke says “such stuff was courtesy, she thought”.
His tone is viciously contemptuous- as if he is hissing, indicated by the alliteration of the “s”. The duke’s scornful and cold tone is portrayed as he sneers “she thought”, this underlines how much antipathy he had for the duchess’s view, indicating how disturbing their relationship had become. The duke expands on his wife’s faults. He disapproves of how she was too easily impressed by the beauties of nature according to his unappreciative nature. Like all overbearing people, the duke describes the duchess to the reader as being fascinated without much effort, “she had/ a heart- how shall I say? Too soon made glad, oo easily impressed” This clarifies his critical attitude towards the duchess: she can be made happy by simple things which he could never understand. The young woman’s “faults” were qualities like compassion, modesty, humility, delight in simple pleasures, and courtesy to those who served her. These lines have a natural, realistic, spontaneous feel created by Borrowing’s use of disyllabic rhyming couplets which give the impression of pauses before speech, suggesting he pauses for thought, as if talking directly to us.
This adds to the feeling of horror as it brings us closer to the duke, an evil and twisted character who attempts to persuade the reader. This creates to a closeness and intimacy which the reader finds sinister. Even today we can see societies having divided opinions on the attributes on certain global leaders. The duke’s objections about the duchess further continued as he complains she was too easily impressed; she liked whatever she looked on and her looks went everywhere”.
Here the Duke blames her for not seeing any difference between being the wife of a great man or any other simple pleasure. He believes she gave all men the kind of respect that only a man with his family’s rank deserves. We are struck by horror as we come to realize the youth of the duchess herself as the duke explains her behavior around the castle as she “broke in the orchard for her, the white mule she rode” This indicates how young she is- full of life and warm hearted, Just like a manager. He could not tolerate the fact the duchess delighted in beauty and appreciated gifts from others.
He recalls that she considered his favor at her breast’ no more important than the setting of the sun or cherries compared to the duke’s “gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name”. This 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 clear to the reader that his name has been given grudgingly. The word ‘stoop’ emphasizes this idea as it denotes how high up the duke thinks he is.
This kind of attitude and air of arrogance would simply not be accepted in today’s society due to people having being less discriminative. The duke’s appalling lack of remorse and human emotion is bought to the reader when he causally describes the duchess’s death. The almost inhumane coldness of his character is made clear as he states: “Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands; then all smiles stopped together” Three very short, sharp, decisive clauses which subtly imply the girl’s murder. A quick and decisive process: this… Soother’.
He simply decides and the deed is done, this again shows his abuse of power, lack of empathy and humanity as murder is the ultimate form of control. If this behavior was not shocking enough, the duke further spits out about the duchess: “There she stands as if alive. Will’s please you rise? We’ll meet the company below, then” Coming Just after the previous lines, the words there she stands as if alive’ strongly suggests the girl has been murdered. After this there is a shocking Juxtaposition in that he was Just talking about murder before suddenly suggesting they merely re-join the other company.
He has no conscience. Again we find a harsh link to today’s society and the duke’s era as there are people who will go to unbelievable lengths to gain their control, ignoring or out ruling their conscience; sometimes with tragic consequences. In conclusion, it is clear that there are many dominant personalities in society today and the duke was one of these men. He has an exaggerated sense of his own position and importance, perhaps because of his upper class upbringing and family background. But this ultimately led to the cold heartless murder of his last duchess.