My Last Duchess Notes

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  • Created on: 30-05-13 13:29
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My Last Duchess [Robert Browning]
Structure and form
Audience is in the position of the envoy
Emotional impact of Duke's words seems greater
Rhyming couplets
Rarely fall at end of line; makes the poem sound like a conversation
The fact that perfect rhymes are used yet are not clear to the audience indicates that the Duke has
rehearsed this speech. His punctuation and caesura's attempt to mimic unrehearsed speech.
Tone
Conversation tone contrasts with the horror of what he has done
Clinical, dispassionate creates chilling tone
Regular structure
An attempt to control the uncontrollable
Dramatic monologue
Draws attention to his self-obsession
Enjambment
Sense of rhyme is lost
Difficult to read without getting jumbled up; perhaps trying to mislead us
Punctuation (stanza's 35-47)
Chops up the narrative Duke is uncomfortable
He never confronted his wife b/c to do so would hurt his pride = weakness
Language
Art
Confirms her status as a possessed object
Personal pronouns, "My"
Expresses his selfishness and high opinion of himself
Jealousy indicated
Enjambment
Suggests breaks in Duke's train of thought
Duchess' playfulness and free spirit permeates the form and structure
"Bough" + "Broke", "Dropping" + "Daylight", "Officious" + "Fool"
Alliterative and plosive words help put across Duke's scorn
"Stoop" (repeated x3)
Highlights Duke's obsession with rank and status
"Painted on the wall"
He has fixed her "smile"
The Duke is now in control b/c he has the power to hide her "behind curtains"

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Looking as if she were alive"
Double meaning; may view as an indication of realistic painting OR view it as a sinister revelation
Reader is invited to wonder about her death; foreshadows what is to be revealed
"A heart ­ how shall I say ­ too soon made glad"
Hesitations makes the Duke seem real
Engaged in a conversation with envoy + audience
"900 year old name"
Duchess made the mistake of not ranking his gift above anyone else's
"Joy" is repeated.…read more

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