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'My Last Duchess' by Robert Browning (Short Questions and Answers)

 My Last Duchess

- Robert Browning

(Short Questions and Answers)

'My Last Duchess' by Robert Browning (Short Questions and Answers)

Q. What is a dramatic monologue?

Answer: The Dramatic Monologue is a specific genre of poetry, which found one of its greatest exponents in Robert Browning. A Dramatic Monologue is delivered by a single imagined person to an imagined auditor. The whole poem generally centres round some critical moment in the life of the speaker who is not to be identified with the poet. All the necessary background information is supplied through the speeches of the person concerned, just as it is done in a drama. Characterization rather than action and concentration rather than collaboration, remain some of the chief stylistic characteristics of the dramatic monologue.

Q. In what sense may My Last Duchess be called a dramatic monologue?

Answer: Browning’s My Last Duchess reveals quite a few of the important features of the dramatic monologue. The entire poem is delivered by the Duke of Ferrara, who delivers his speech to the envoy of the count. All the necessary background information is supplied in course of the Duke speech. The speech clearly reveals the character of the man who delivers it. Psychological interest and character study are much more important here than action or description. The entire poem is marked by an admirable concentration of thought and a fine economy of expression.

Q. Explain the first two lines of My Last Duchess by Robert Browning.

Answer: In the first two lines of My Last Duchess, written by Robert Browning, the Duke is shown to paint of a portrait of his last judges and the tone is that of the sincere admiration of a genuine lover of art. The picture is lifelike as if the painter was able to capture the soul of the Duchess. The essential quality of the Duchess was an abundance of goodness and a sense of joy which she showed on people indiscriminately. That sense of joy made her cheeks flushed.

Q. Which trait of the Duchess’ character irritated the Duke most?

Answer: The Duchess, the wife of the Duke of Ferrara, was a lady of free and frank disposition. She was easily pleased and was never slow in expressing that pleasure. She receives gifts from her husband an from others. With an equal degree of pleasure, thus, it was clear that she did not attach an special importance to her husband’s gift. Moreover, she had the habit of smiling not only at her husband, but everybody else. It is this trait of her character that irritated the Duke most.

Q. “This grew; I gave commands;

Then all smiles stopped together.”

-       - Bring out the implication of the lines quoted above.

Answer: The Duke of Ferrara thus speaks to the Count’s envoy in Browning’s poem, My Last Duchess. The Duchess had the habit of smiling not only at her husband, but at everybody else. This irritated the Duke, who felt that his wife had no special love or respect for him. He was an autocrat who was extremely conscious of his own privileges both as a ruler and as a husband. So when he thought that his wife was overstepping the bounds of modesty, he ordered her to be killed. By the expression “all smiles stop together” he ironically refers to this brutal murder of his wife.

Q. Do you think that the Duke of Ferrara delivers his speech to the Count’s envoy with some particular object in view?

Answer: Browning’s My Last Dutchess is a fine specimen of dramatic monologue in which the character of the Duke of Ferrara has been skilfully portrayed through his own speech. He is a man of autocratic temperament and is jealous of his own privileges. He loves to rule predominantly. His former wife was killed by his order because he did not find her behaviour to his taste. Now he has decided to marry the daughter of a Count whose envoy has been sent to him. He delivers his speech to the envoy in order to impress on him the fact that he would gain absolute and unconditional devotion from the woman he marries.


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