My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

4 April 2015
Analyzes character of arrogant & sadistic Duke & his relationship with Duchess in dramatic monologue.

Recognized by scholars as one of the great dramatic monologues in all literature, Browning’s My Last Duchess is both a marvel of condensed emotion and a penetrating insight into the nature of self-absorption and jealousy. The narrative, ostensibly a description of a portrait, is actually a devastating portrait of the one describing it. Browning uses ambiguity, shifts in mood and symbolism to give the reader a glimpse at a chilling personality. Above all other elements of the poem, the characterization stands out as a testimony to Browning’s formidable poetic capacities. Through the character of the Duke, Browning explores the nature of good and evil, of innocence abused. The poem is a study in cold, systematic torture of a warm human soul by an icy-hearted tyrant (Phelps 172).
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