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What Does The Poem "My Last Duchess" Reveal About The Dukes Attitudes Towards Women?

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Introduction

The poem "My Last Duchess" written by Robert Browning, tells a sinister account of a powerful and well thought of mans trials and tribulations in his past and future love affairs. The poem is written in monologue and mainly portrays a picture of his last wife and the jealousy she caused him, but also shows his preparation in getting a new wife. The poem shows us how his wives are mainly for show and treated as more of a possession than a loved one, and also gives us an insight into the type of marriages that occur in this poem as they are treated much like a business transaction. The poem shows many controversial attitudes towards women and creates of a good picture of how women were treated and controlled by men. The poem shows us that the Duke treats his wife as nothing more than a possession of his, this point is best shown towards the end of the poem when they are outlining the 'contact' for his soon to be wife. "Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed at starting, is my object." This quote shows that the Duke thinks of women as simply an object of his, and we can also see from the poem that his women are not mainly for love but mainly for show and are kept as more of a pet than an human being. ...read more.

Middle

The poem shows us that the Duke thinks that the looks she gaves out to strangers should just be for him, "She smiled no dout, when I passed her; but who passed without much the same smile?" And also when he explains that she is too easily tempted and often gives 'the eye,' "too easily impressed; she liked whateve'er she looked on, and her looks went everywhere." These quotes show us that the Dukes jealousy stems from the way his ex-wife acted around others but also shows that his jealousy is for something he could have -as there is no distinct sign in the poem that they had a sexual relationship- and when he sees his wife giving 'the eye' he realises what he's not getting? The poem also shows us that the Duke is very paranoid because of his wife, this is best revealed when he talks about the painter and painting and how she was shown flushed and how many have asked how she got that passionate glance on her face, "how such a glance came there.... perhaps Fra' Pandolf chances to say 'her mantle laps over my lady's wrist to much' or 'paint must never hope to reproduce the faint half-flush that dies along her throat." ...read more.

Conclusion

This idea about sexual paranoia/disgust of his ex-wife and Fra' Pandolf first comes to show near the very beginning of the poem and is shown repeatedly in words which have a double meanings. The first example of this is when the Duke says, "Fra' Pandolf's hands worked busily a day," this quote shows us that he suspects Fra' Pandolf's hands of working all day on his ex-wife, and not on the painting. Another example of his is when he is explaining that Fra' Pandolf's had a the opportunity to chat her up, and how he believes he did, and he says "Fra' Pandolf's chanced to say 'her mantle laps over my lady's wrist to much' or 'paint must never hope to reproduce that faint half-flush along her throat." This quote shows us many words which could have a sexual double meaning, for example when he says, "her mantle laps over my lady's wrist to much" this use of the word laps suggests licking and tongues, and also when he says, "Paint must never hope to reproduce that faint half-flush along her throat." This quote shows two words, which have a double meaning one being flush, which suggests blushing and sexual excitement and emotions, and the other being throat, which suggests that the painter is looking at her neck/upper chest area. MARK ANDREWS 1 ...read more.

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