poem—this is its dramatic quality. Can you see that this poem makes an excellent oral text; were you able to imagine the two actors and how they would speak, look, and move, throughout the course of the poem? It is important that the level of language fit the time, place, and character of the poem. Browning has used a very formal diction for this very aristocratic man, and, of course, uses the kind of language used in an earlier time (the sixteenth century). He also writes the poetry in a regular pattern, called iambic pentameter, which involves using 10 syllables, or five feet, per line, with five pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables. Here is an example of this pattern in lines 1 and 2 of the poem. In each of the five feet, the stress is placed on the second syllable, which is shown in capital letters and italics here. Try saying this aloud, to see if you can hear the rhythm: That’s MY | last DUCH | ess PAINT | ed ON | the WALL , Look ING | as IF | she WERE | a LIVE | I CALL The other thing that you can notice in this poem is the pattern of the rhyme: line 1 rhymes with line 2, line 3 with line 4, line 5 with line 6, and so on. Pairs of rhyming lines like these are called rhyming couplets . (You will see more of iambic pentameter and rhyming couplets in Shakespeare’s writing, in the next three lessons.)
English ENG2D-B Lesson 17, page 31 Copyright © 2009 The Ontario Educational Communications Authority. All rights reserved. Support Question (do not send in for evaluation) 12. a) Carefully reread “My Last Duchess,” and then answer the following questions. i) Quote the line(s) in the poem that might cause you to question whether the Duke had anything to do with the Duchess’s death. ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ ii) According to the Duke, how did his last Duchess behave? iii) Why do you think Browning waits until the end of the poem to reveal that the Duke is intending to marry again? What effect does it have on the reader when the Duke refers to his next wife as an “object”? ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ iv) What does the Duke value? Support your answer with three quotations from the poem.________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
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