Discuss how Robert Browning presents the relationship between the Duke and Duchess. In my last duchess there are many different language techniques used to present the relationship between the Duke and Duchess. An example of language is the way the Duke uses personal pronouns to highlight his self-importance and arrogance “ Since none puts by the curtain I have drawn for you, but I” this use of personal pronouns highlights that the Duke thinks very highly of himself and he has a high self-esteem.
Many of the words used also relate to his love of possessions. In this poem the themes relate to the Dukes attitude which is arrogance and high self-importance but also that pride is not an attractive quality the Duke arrogance comes across quite clearly when talking about himself and his possessions also that having money and possessions aren’t everything yes the Duke might have a massive house and paintings but his paranoia about his last Duchess comes across and reflects his insecurity. In my last Duchess punctuation is used to show it’s a speech “she had a heart – how shall I say?- too soon made glad.”
This poem is a form of speech and the use of punctuation tell us that is unrehearsed and that he has to think about his words, this speech is also pretending to be a conversation. It’s divided up into rhyming couplets to mimic an unrehearsed speech there are lots of twists within the lines which is shown by the variety of punctuation. This is a one way Conversation which shows that his arrogance does not allow anyone else to speak.
His arrogance is shown when he says “never to stoop” he will never lose his dignity, he won’t sink to the Duchess level which makes it seem like Duke is embarrassed to be with a woman whose immaturity levels are a lot lower than his. Robert browning wrote “My last Duchess” in Victorian England when there were concerns surrounding the darker side of relationships and marriage. This was a time of patriarchal dominance where women were dominated by men; men were very controlling and marriage was oppressive and repressive it made women feel imprisoned in their domestic sphere.
Woman were also punished if they did not obey their fathers or husbands this is where brutal dominance would come’s into it, women would be abused by their fathers and husbands for not following commands “I gave commands; then all the smiles stopped all together” this part of the poem shows the male dominance but it brings questions to the mind ‘Who did he command?’ ‘What did he command?’ ‘Is the command that he gave the reason why she is dead?’ all these questions haveno answer they just make you think about the possibilities of what could have happened. In this paragraph I will specifically highlight the points I think most show the relationship between the Duke and Duchess.
Jealousy is not shown until the end of the poem, the duke is so proud of his possession that nothing could change it “ but who passed without much the same smile” this quote tells us that the Duchess’s smile is the same for everyone and that the smile she smiled with to a peasant for instants is the same smile she uses for he husband this indicates that the Duke is jealous of the way she treats other men, considering as Duke always referred to the Duchess an objects it’s hard to understand why he would be jealous.
His sense of ownership “That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall” he is saying it’s his Duchess no-one else’s he feels like has full ownership of her and perhaps that’s why he was getting jealous. Superiority is another “As if she Ranked” this quote shows his lack of superiority, she is just a women I am the main thing here, I am the great one, he is saying that in all honesty she is not In his ranks he married her for the dowry, he brought her like an object you buy at shop which makes it seem like she was not actually wanted by him. In conclusion the Duke and Duchess’s relationship is not equal he sees her as a possession while she sees him as a husband.