Friday, July 30, 2021

Questions & Answers of the poem My Last Duchess by Robert Browning.

1. Discuss My Last Duchess as a dramatic monologue.

Answer: The dramatic monologue is Browning's most important innovation in form. It is the detached speech in which he takes some striking individual at a highly special moment in his life, and instead of dissecting him from the outside, as an ordinary novelist would do, he penetrates to the depth of his nature, and through his own utterances makes him lay bare the innermost secrets of his life-his motive good or bad, his temperament, his personality. the aberration of his thought, his self-deception, his way of looking at things. In short, in a dramatic monologue a soul's history is told in an episode of an hour. The ideal aim of the dramatic monologue is," as Hudson says, "may be defined as the self-portrayal, without ulterior purpose, of the personality of the supposed speaker."

The dramatic monologue is predominantly psychological, analytical, meditative and argumentative like the soliloquy. But while in a soliloquy the person concerned speaks to and argues with himself, in a dramatic monologue the speaker speaks and addresses his arguments to another person who generally keeps silent.

My Last Duchess is a representative dramatic monologue of Browning. He catches the Duke at a critical moment of his life-the moment when he is having an interview with the ambassador of a foreign Count whose daughter he seeks eagerly in marriage, and reveals the facet after facet of the speaker's (i.e. Duke's) character-his all-consuming jealousy which made him ask the painter Fra Pandolf to paint the portrait of his last Duchess only within a day. and instruct the Duchess not to ride beyond the compound of his palace; his inordinate egoism which led him to regard his wife as a property and her habit of smiling on everybody as an infringement of the rights of proprietorship he had in her; his inhuman pride which made him shrink from telling her what actions of hers displeased him, and where she crossed the bounds of decency and decorum; and above all, his Barabas-like greed that drove him to hint that "The Count your master's known munificence / Is ample warrant that no just pretence / Of mine for dowry will be disallowed."

The pressure of the moment forced into high relief the real underlying temperament of the Duke, obscured by some disguising veneer in normal times: the elements and energies of his life came out tightly knotted in microcosmic completeness. Thus, he is compelled even to reveal what he would fain conceal in normal times-the command he gave to kill his wife to stop for ever her luscious smiles: "I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together."

The poem is argumentative and analytical. Here the Duke analyses what "called that spot of joy into the Duchess cheek." He says to the envoy that it was not her husband's presence only that called up that spot of joy on her cheek; in fact, any compliment from anybody was enough to make her face radiant with joy. He also argues why he did not "stoop to blame this sort of trifling."

Like other dramatic monologues of Browning the poem begins abruptly with the words, "That's my last Duchess painted on the wall." and then proceeds to dissect the Duke and Duchess's character and we cannot guess at the whole intention of the speaker (i.e. the Duke) until we come to the end:

"Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea horse......”

By these words and what he had said before about his last wife he wanted to convey to the envoy and through him to the lady that "he demanded in his new wife the concentration of her whole being on himself, and the utmost devotion to his will." He also meant to say that if his new wife behaved in the way the last Duchess did, then she would be commanded to be killed.

My Last Duchess fulfils the ideal aim of a dramatic monologue. It gives the faithful self-portrayal, without ulterior purpose, of the personality of the supposed speaker (i.e. the Duke). The Duke, in expressing his own ideas, does not act, as the speakers in most of Browning's dramatic monologues usually do, as the mouthpiece of Browning. But the rejected lover, in The Last Ride Together simply expresses the poet's optimistic philosophy in expressing his own attitude to life and love. Moreover, in My Last Duchess Browning is primarily concerned with the delineation of the Duke's character while in The Last Ride Together he is more occupied with the rejected lover's case-making. The latter poem turns out to be a kind of special pleading which the rejected lover makes in defense of his failure in love.

2. Discuss the character of Duke in My Last Duchess.


1 comment:

  1. Where the second question's answer?????