My Last Duchess | Study Guide

Robert Browning

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Check out this Infographic to learn more about Robert Browning's My Last Duchess. Study visually with character maps, plot summaries, helpful context, and more.

Duke of Ferrara gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. Sources:, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Communication The duke chose not to share his criticism with the last duchess. Power The duke wants to hold power over his wives. Arrogance The duke believes his name entitles him to special treatment. Themes Duke of Ferrara Wealthy, arrogant duke with a 900-year-old name; controls access to a painting of his late wife, whom he presumably murdered Duchess of Ferrara Joyful young woman who in life may have displeased her husband, the duke; now the subject of a painting Servant Emissary of a count sent to negotiate the terms of a new marriage with the duke; privileged to view a painting of the late duchess Main Characters Best known for his work on the dramatic monologue, Browning was an English Victorian poet whose career began in writing for the theater. Although he wrote from a young age, he only achieved commercial success in the last two decades of his life—after the 1861 death of his wife, poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. ROBERT BROWNING1812–89 Author The art in the poem is about possession, revealing the duke’s controlling ways. Art Lucrezia de’ Medici, likely the “last duchess,” had a suspicious death. Historical Duchess The subject of such a poem is intended to be the speaker, not the stated topic. Dramatic Monologue “My Last Duchess” is a dramatic monologue in which the duke of Ferrara explains to the emissary of the count—the father of his wife-to-be—why the last duchess is dead and where she failed. The portrait of the smiling duchess—to which he alone controls access—serves as a warning. Squeezing the Life out of His Wife CONTEXT English Original Language 1842 Year Published Robert Browning Author My Last Duchess My Last Duchess Drama Poetry

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