Monday, October 4, 2010

"My Last Duchess" a dramatic monologue

My Last Duchess


THAT’S my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said        5
“Frà Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek: perhaps        15
Frà Pandolf chanced to say, “Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat:” such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough        20
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?—too soon made glad.
Too easily impressed: she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favor at her breast,        25
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace—all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,        30
Or blush, at least. She thanked men,—good! but thanked
Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill        35
In speech—(which I have not)—to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set        40
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
—E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;        45
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence        50
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,        55
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

This painting, by the Renaissance
 artist Bronzino,
is of the woman who inspired this poem.




  1. If you look at the first part you can see how he views his wife as being beautiful and tells sort of, why he wanted her as his wife. She was beautiful, kind hearted, and easy to please. But as the poem goes on there is a different twist to it. It shows how when she received these lavish gifts of his he didn’t really win over her love, he wasn’t special.

  2. To understand this poem you must look into the history of it. Also you must know what a "Dutch" is. A dutch is the wife or widow of a duke. The poem took place in Italy during the Renaissance.

    The poem has more than one theme. Power egoism are the strongest. And to me the poem is a little sick. The duke is excited to have power over his late wife through a curtain.
    "'twas not her husband's presence only" saying the reason she smiled was not only because of the duke but the dutch my have been "too friendly" then "I gave commands; then all smiles stopped together." he is glad to say he killed her and had plaesure of having command to now be the only man to make her smile.

    also what i have looked up this is called a "dramatic monologue".

  3. This poem to me is about someone who deeply inside cannot stand his wife. He tends to talk graciously about his wife in the first couple of lines, and then in line 9 he begins to degrade her. Line 9 I believe is the antithesis. I actually like how this person talks so sweet and describes how beautiful his wife is in the beginning, and then starts insulting her. In line 5- 9 I notice that he talks about people who look at his wife in a positive way, but inside he expresses the emotion of hate towards her. "I gave commands; then all smiles stopped together," is my favorite line in the poem because this shows that he decided to take action from feeling this emotion of hate, which is the action of murder.

  4. Kenia,Nyasia, and Brittany, what objections might you have to marrying the duke, knowing who he is and what he is capable of doing?

  5. This poem was a bit confusing at first but as I read it over, It became clearer and I understood it more. I believe this poem is about a man talking to himself about how beautiful his painting of a women is. I believe that it is a painting of his deceased lover because he says "Looking as if she were alive." Also, he makes it seem like he is obsessed with the figure in the painting and wants her to come alive "There she stands As if alive. Will’t please you rise?" This gives the impression that he is on the crazy side. My favorite couplet in this poem is "Sir, ’twas all one! My favor at her breast, The dropping of the daylight in the West." I like these two lines because the rhymes at the end really complement each other - however, I do not know what he means by "West."

  6. The Duke describes the portrait of the girl and she seems like a lovely girl. However near the end, he writes that she flirts with other people and didn't appreciate him. Then he arranges a marriage with another woman?

  7. I believe that is about a man who thinks the painting is beautiful. This man seems psycho because he looks obsessed with the painting and he says that the women in the painting is his wife. He is asking her to come alive and talks about her breasts. This is why it makes me think hes obsessed with his own artwork and crazy. Overall, I think this is a great peom.

  8. When I first read this poem i didnt know what I had just read, then I read it over a few times and realized this man is crazy.

  9. I liked the reading in class..... this poem was very hard to understand because the fact that theres about 4 or more voices! I thought at first it was only 3 voices but today in class you said 4 voices!

    I agree with Brandon, this poem needws to be read over and over again to fully be understood! The cat was so easy to understand!! Like seriously, come on guys... it jumps, its licks its nose, and its lies on its back! CAT! CAT! Haha i liked this poem!

  10. I read this poem like 4 times already and I still don't fully understand it.


  12. In this poem the Duke is describing his wife, the Duchess. Although he believes her to be beautiful he speaks about her as if she is a nuisance. She is flirtatious and as he describes her, she sounds like a "whore". He feels disgust for her as is implied in lines 36 through 38. I feel like at the end when he says,"I gave commands;Then all smiles stopped together" he means that he killed her and that is why in the painting she is "looking as if she WERE alive". At the end of the poem he wants a new wife and is negotiating for the count's daughter.