My Last Duchess

Sophie Rodger
Mind Map by Sophie Rodger, updated more than 1 year ago
Sophie Rodger
Created by Sophie Rodger over 6 years ago


Mind Map on My Last Duchess, created by Sophie Rodger on 05/05/2015.

Resource summary

My Last Duchess
  1. Key info:
    1. Written by Robert Browning
      1. Poet reveals a complex character
        1. Amoral Duke who is willingly telling an envoy about how he murdered his previous wife
          1. creates an unnerving feeling within the reader as you realise the duke is not as he originally appeared to be and is living without consequences as he is so powerful
          2. Structure reflects the content
            1. dramatic monologue
              1. ten syllables per line
                1. heroic couplets
                  1. iambic pentameter
                    1. enjambment = read aloud as free verse
                      1. contrasts against controlled structure
                      2. all features reflect Duke, first impression of him is charming and harmless but you realise he's a megalomaniac
                      3. "That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, looking as if she were alive"
                        1. "last" tells the reader that there were more before her and assumes that there will be more after her
                          1. creates an unloving tone, realise what he's not saying / not what he is saying
                            1. expect Duke to show some grief over the death of his wife
                          2. "As if she were alive" immediately tells the reader that she is dead
                          3. "Fra Pandolf's hand's worked busily a day and there she stands"
                            1. The Duke mentions Fra Pandolfs name several times / he's more interested in boasting about who painted the portrait than who it is of
                            2. Creates believable persona
                              1. "-How shall I say?-
                                1. "-I know not how-"
                                  1. "Even had you the skill in speech (which I have not)"
                                    1. She thanked men - good!"
                                2. creates verisimilitude by mimicking natural speech
                                  1. False modesty - the Duke wants to appear humble
                                    1. repeats words - creates the feeling of a real person speaking
                                      1. adds to the horror of poem as you feel as though you are listening into a conversation you shouldn't be
                                        1. use of anacoluthon reflects rhythm of speech
                                        2. " 'Twas not her husbands presence only that called that spot of joy
                                          1. At first I thought this could be construed as jealousy but the Duke is too conceited for that
                                            1. "Spot of joy" = blushing
                                              1. Ducke says that Fra Pandolf might have complimented her or told her to show her wrist more
                                                1. Shows how modest the Duchess was and not vain
                                                  1. "such stuff was courtesy, she thought"
                                                    1. "Stuff" is pejorative shows the Duke thought that any act of kindness was sycophancy
                                                      1. "she thought" conveys through a dismissive tone that he doesn't care about what she thinks at all
                                                  2. "Sir 'twas all one!"
                                                    1. compares sunset to a brooch
                                                      1. assume brooch was expensive or an heirloom
                                                      2. The Duchess didn't have a hierarchy and didn't let her title corrupt her
                                                        1. Duke inadvertently describes him, she acts as a foil
                                                          1. Duke breaks away from 1st impression
                                                            1. Duke only interested in things that money can buy, materialistic and vain
                                                            2. "As if she ranked my gift of a nine-hundred year old name with anybody's gift"
                                                              1. superior
                                                                1. He considers his name as a privilege
                                                                  1. irrational way in which he believes that his wives should be in debt to him
                                                                    1. shows he wants his wives to act a certain way
                                                                      1. materialistic, proud, self-important
                                                                      2. "Since none puts by the curtain I have drawn for you, but I
                                                                        1. undesirable traits
                                                                          1. possessive / no one gets to view her apart from him or the people he choses
                                                                            1. drape shows length of possessiveness
                                                                              1. Duke has complete authority over Duchess / beauty but voiceless
                                                                              2. "If they durst"
                                                                                1. people finds him intimidating, he likes it and sees no fault in character
                                                                                2. "Object"
                                                                                  1. ambiguous
                                                                                    1. counts daughter is only objective despite the money
                                                                                      1. only cares about the daughter
                                                                                      2. property
                                                                                      3. "Me!"
                                                                                        1. Poem ends with how it began
                                                                                          1. self-obsessed
                                                                                            1. shows a lack of remorse for anything other than himself
                                                                                              1. "absolute power corrupts absolutely"
                                                                                              2. "Notice Neptune though"
                                                                                                1. "Neptune taming a seahorse"
                                                                                                  1. symbolises wealth and power
                                                                                                    1. harsh / evil character
                                                                                                      1. seahorse - past and future Duchess's
                                                                                                        1. delicate and defenceless
                                                                                                        2. vainglorious / aesthete
                                                                                                        3. "Nay, we'll go down together Sir
                                                                                                          1. ambiguous
                                                                                                            1. interpreted two ways:
                                                                                                              1. envoy tries to run off and warn the Count
                                                                                                                1. much more sinister and much more limey, envoy has signalled for Duke to go first but out of politeness the Duke declines
                                                                                                                  1. Duke goes back to first impression
                                                                                                              2. "This grew, I gave commands
                                                                                                                1. Duke was unyeilding
                                                                                                                  1. euphemism - he ordered someone to kill her
                                                                                                                    1. no conscience, evil person
                                                                                                                    2. "I choose never to stoop
                                                                                                                      1. haughtiness exposed, arrogant
                                                                                                                        1. pride causes him to think he is above everyone else
                                                                                                                          1. He isn't going to compromise
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