English Lit - My Last Duchess (Poetry - Context)

  • Created by: Liv39
  • Created on: 04-04-18 14:56

My Last Duchess - Robert Browning

  • Historical Context
  • Browning's Context
  • Extra Context




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My Last Duchess - Historical Context

  • The poem is based on Duke Alfonso II (very powerful and wealthy) and is written from his persepective, talking to a messenger about arranging his next marriage.
  • The real Duke Alfonso II's last duchess was Lucrezia de' Medici, who died in suspicious circumstances after two years of marriage.
  • The historical controversy from the 16th century influenced Browning's writing in the 19th century; there are subtle hints within his poem that the speaker's last duchess was murdered: 'the faint half flush that dies along her throat' and 'then all smiles stopped together'.
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My Last Duchess - Browning's Context

  • Browning spent most of his life living in Itaky, which is perhaps why he chose to write about figures of fascination from Italian history.
  • He married fellow poet Elizabeth Barrett, but they had to marry in secret and flee to Italy because of her over-protective father.
  • Perhaps his experience of this overbearing father led him to write about the duke, who was alsi incredibly controlling and domineering over his last duchess.
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My Last Duchess - Extra Context

  • Robert Browning was heavily influenced as a youngster by his father's extensive collection of books and art.
  • By the age of fourteen he'd learned Latin, Greek and French.
  • He went to the University of London but left because it didn't suit him.

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