How do the Duke and Duchess differ in Robert Browning’s poem My Last Duchess? This question often comes up when you read Browning’s poem, My Last Duchess that was published in 1844 in his collection of poems entitled Dramatic Lyrics.
In this poem, Browning uses several literary devices including alliteration, personification, metaphor, simile, and tone to create an intriguing and intriguing story about a Duke who compares his dead wife to the painting of his previous wife that hangs above his mantelpiece, implying that the Duchess has not lived up to her predecessor’s high standards .Robert Browning’s poem My Last Duchess explores the mysterious and, to some extent, disturbing relationship between a duke and his most recent wife.
In My Last Duchess, Browning paints a clear picture of what it means to be a successful duke. Of course, we don’t know who My Last Duchess is; she may represent any member of her class, since all dukes are rich, important people. But despite her limited role as a symbol for all such people, she does have one characteristic that sets her apart from others like her: she is beautiful. Her beauty is so striking that it eventually leads to her death – which only reinforces its significance.
This first stanza establishes not only how much money and power you need to become a successful duke, but also how success comes at a price (even if it isn’t monetary). The more money you earn, buy or attain through marriage, for example, the harder other people will try to take it away from you – particularly those around you who lack similar resources.
The duke’s confession of being captivated by her beauty at first sight. The duchess knew how to use her appearance to make him fall for her: She has sought occasion (line 9) to speak with him, she laughed (line 8) when they met, and she kept it hot (line 12). The poem continues to describe that she looked beautiful in a particular gown, which was supposedly worn by her forebears. Because of her beauty, he fell passionately in love with her immediately; his love did not diminish even after ten years.
This shows that their different temperaments were already established from their initial meeting – probably because he is married to another woman and cannot marry her right away. He keeps falling more deeply in love with her each day without noticing that their relationship is deteriorating until the end of their life together. According to line 17, however, it seems like she began to change even before they had lived together under one roof – seemingly also as soon as she had caused his heartburn.
However, since we are given little details about what happens between them during their marriage besides mention of banquets and hunting parties, we can only assume what might have been bothering them.
In particular, when I look at her, I find an indifference in her face towards me (which may be an apt simile for my indifference to her). She is very cold towards me (and not reciprocating my love), as if she could barely tolerate me as a husband. She must be coming to loathe our marriage. As well she should! If I were married to her, I’d certainly feel that way. And yet I still have feelings for her; perhaps our marriage will flourish once more. She is beautiful but she makes it hard for me to know exactly what those feelings are.
It is interesting to note that, even though both characters of My Last Duchess desire to make themselves seem divine, they take different approaches. The Duke tries to play it off as if he was born with those traits, but he has a lot of work ahead of him to achieve perfection; on the other hand, his wife seems satisfied that she could come so close.