My Last Duchess Explication University Essay Example

Paraphrased and Unified Text:

The poem “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning is a dramatic monologue in which a duke shows a servant the portrait of his deceased first wife, the duchess. Through this form of speech, the speaker unintentionally exposes his own personality traits, such as self-centeredness, arrogance, control, chauvinism, and extreme jealousy. Despite the duke’s attempt to hide these qualities, they become increasingly evident to readers. This creates situational irony as the duke remains unaware of how he truly appears to others, thinking of himself as a powerful and noble aristocrat. The poet, Browning, uses iambic pentameter and employs rhyming patterns in every two lines. In addition to its dramatic monologue form, the poem is also considered lyric poetry as it evokes emotions without telling a story. The speaker shares his perspective on his first duchess, as indicated by the title “The Last Duchess.” The setting plays a significant role in reflecting the societal treatment of women during that era. The main theme of the poem revolves around the duke’s possessive love and his contemplation of his past life with the duchess, which ultimately leads to her murder and showcases his lack of conscience or remorse.

The speaker, in the first eight lines of the poem, addresses an unknown listener, using only the pronoun “you”. The listener’s identity is not revealed until the end. The speaker starts by mentioning a portrait of his late Duchess on the wall, noting that she looks alive. This implies that the Duchess is deceased. However, the speaker doesn’t dwell on this fact and instead boasts about the skill of the painter, repeatedly mentioning his name (Fra Pandolf). This reveals both the speaker’s indifference and arrogance. Furthermore, the speaker claims that he is the only one who can draw back the curtain covering the portrait, implying that only privileged individuals are allowed to view it. This demonstrates the speaker’s controlling nature and desire to possess power over his wife even in her depiction.

As the Duke proceeds (11-21), it becomes evident that he was infuriated by the attention others paid to the Duchess, believing she should only exist for him. He states, “Sir, it wasn’t just her husband’s presence that brought joy to the Duchess’ cheek.” Furthermore, he points out various remarks made by the artist Fra Pandolf who painted her portrait, such as, “Her mantle hangs too heavily on my lady’s wrist,” and “No painter could ever capture the delicacy of her flushed throat.” The Duke expresses his dissatisfaction because the Duchess was easily pleased with simple joys, whether it be admiring a sunset, receiving cherries, or riding her white mule around the terrace and receiving compliments. He is particularly disappointed that she failed to value the prestigious title he bestowed upon her, treating it no differently from any other gift she received (22-34). In the subsequent stanza, the Duke mentions that even if he possessed the skill (which he indeed did – an ironic twist) to confront the Duchess about his disgust towards her behavior, he would not stoop down to her level. He declares, “Who would lower themselves to blame such trivial matters? Even if you had the skill in speech – which I lack – to express your desires… Even then it would be an act beneath me; and I choose never to compromise my integrity.”(35-43) In the past, it was commonly believed that women were inferior to men, hence they were not worthy of having conversations on certain topics. This viewpoint stemmed from the fear that a woman might respond and challenge the man’s authority, potentially embarrassing him. The expectation was for the man to issue instructions, and for the woman to unquestioningly comply.

“This grew; I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together.” It is clear that the situation deteriorated. He was surely filled with anger — he could not tolerate the idea of her no longer worshiping only him, so he was willing to annihilate her. While he does not explicitly mention it, one can only assume that he issued instructions to have her murdered, which serves as yet another indication of his controlling and dictatorial disposition. (Some might believe that he lost control, though, when he had her killed — yet another potential irony).

The Duke, as described in lines 47-53, gazes at the portrait once more and acknowledges the listener as a servant of the Count, the father of his future bride. He mentions the considerable dowry he would gladly receive, indicating negotiations for a new marital agreement. Moving away from the portrait to rejoin the others present, the duke casually draws attention to another possession, a bronze statue featuring Neptune taming a sea-horse (54-56). Once again, he mentions the sculptor’s name in an attempt to leave an impression. The duke’s fondness for this sculpture is evident as he compares its power and influence to his desire to project authority and dominance over women.

Upon reading this poem, it becomes evident that the Duke was indeed a cruel and heartless man. It is assumed that he orchestrated the killing of his first wife without any remorse. Instead, he moved forward in his unyielding pursuit of another woman whom he could manipulate and control. In fact, he even exerted his influence to inform the servant about his intentions to marry the Count’s daughter. Rather than grieving over the loss of his first wife, he took pleasure in the notion that he could now exercise dominion over her beauty through a portrait, which he only revealed to those he invited when he unveiled its curtain. Such a sensation of power must have been overwhelming for him! However, in the 20th century, I believe this poem would have been written differently to acknowledge the freedom and agency women possess today. No woman would have tolerated his actions! Perhaps the Duke himself would have reconsidered how he mistreated his exquisite Duchess.


Frees On A Doll’s House: Theme Of Emancipati

The central theme of A Doll’s House by Ibsen is the emancipation of women, which is evident throughout the play.

Ibsen explores the theme of women’s emancipation by highlighting the issues stemming from a doll-like marriage. In Act I, various hints suggest the dynamics of Nora and Torvald’s relationship. Nora appears to be a puppet under Torvald’s control, relying on him for everything – actions, thoughts, and more. The most visible indication of Torvald’s physical dominance over Nora is his instruction of the tarantella, with Nora pretending to require his guidance for every step in relearning the dance.

It is evident to the reader that this is a performance by Nora, displaying her submissiveness towards Torvald. He teaches her the dance and declares that when he saw her perform the tarantella, it evoked intense physical desire in him. This showcases his attention towards Nora’s physical appearance rather than her emotional well-being. In response, Nora pleads with Torvald to leave her alone and expresses her disinterest in the situation. Torvald then questions Nora by asking if he is not her husband.

By stating this, he is implying that Nora’s obligation as his wife is to satisfy him physically whenever he desires. Torvald also lacks confidence in Nora’s handling of money, which highlights his treatment of Nora as a child. When Torvald occasionally gives Nora some money, he is concerned that she will squander it on sweets and pastries, just like one would fret about a child. Nora’s responsibilities mainly revolve around taking care of the children, housework, and working on her needlework. One issue with her duties is that her most crucial duty is to please Torvald, mirroring the role of a slave.

The issue in A Doll’s House arises not only from Torvald but also from the entire Victorian society. Women were restricted in every possible way. When Krogstad threatens to reveal Nora’s secret, Torvald’s lack of immediate assistance makes Nora realize the problem. Waiting until after he finds out that his social standing will be unaffected, Torvald exposes his true sentiments, prioritizing appearances, both social and physical, over his supposedly beloved wife. It is this revelation that prompts Nora to leave Torvald.

Nora tells Torvald that she had been treated like a child her whole life, similar to how her father treated her. Both men not only denied her freedom of thought and action, but also limited her happiness. Nora describes her emotions as always being cheerful but never truly content. When Nora slams the door and leaves, she is not just leaving Torvald, but also leaving behind a past that hindered her growth into a mature woman. Today, many women find themselves in a similar situation as Nora. Although some have accepted women as equals, there are still those who cling to outdated societal views.

The text argues that achieving true equality is challenging due to the demands of Christian conservatives for women to conform to traditional roles and some women using their “feminine charm” to manipulate men. These mindsets are evident in the play A Doll’s House. Torvald exemplifies the modern stereotypical man, focused on his image and exerting control without considering others’ emotions. Nora, in contrast, represents the typical woman who caters to men’s desires.

She manipulates Torvald into believing he is smarter and stronger than he actually is, but when Nora slams the door, Torvald realizes the true meaning of love and equality. He understands that being together with someone like Nora won’t achieve true equality. Only when everyone in the modern world perceives males and females as fully equal, without using their societal power based on their gender, can true equality exist.

Work Cited: Ibsen, Henrik.

Four Major Plays: A Doll’s House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Literary Analysis: The Storm

The plot of the story “The Storm” by Kate Chopin is a conventional everydayplot. The story would not be so interesting if it weren’t for the last line of thestory; “So the storm passed and everyone was happy.” What did she mean bythe closing line? My interpretation of the story is that she meant the rocky partof both Calixta and Alcee’s mariage had passed along with the storm. BothAlcee and Calixta cheated on their spouse, however, they both knew thatwhen the stor was over they would return to faithfulness with their mates.

Alcee obviously felt regretful, as indicated when the author writes; “It was aloving letter full of tender solicitude.” He then went on to say “although hemissed them, he was willing to bear the separation a while longer-realizing thattheir health and pleasure were the first things to be considered.” These quoteswere taken from the letter Alcee had written to his wife. The storm hadpassed and it looked as if everyone in Alcee’s situation was going to behappy. As for Calixta, she was extremely happy to see her son and husbandreturn home safely, as indicated in the story; “She had clasped Bibi and waskissing him effusively.” Calixta then went on to Bobinot and “Felt him to see ifhe was dry, and seemed to express nothing but satisfaction at their safereturn.” Calixta had also withstood the storm of her marriage and everyoneseemed to be happy too. Alcee and Calixta both seemed to realize they wereblessed with loving spouses. In their moment of passion they did not realizehow lucky they both were. I feel they both came to grips with the fact thatwhat happened between them was an act of lust and there were no feelingsinvolved. The moment was very arousing to each of them but when the stormwas over so was the act of lust and betrayal. My opinion is, this act was goingto help both Alcee’s and Calixta’s marriage rather than hurt it, as long as theirrespective spouses do not find out what happened during the storm. I bringthis up because both guilty parties involved seemed to come away fromtheincident loving their spouses more and realizing that their choice of who tomarry was the right choice to make. Each xpressed concern for their spouseswell being and the actions they took during the storm didn’t even cross theirminds as the storm passed. Sometimes people need a “storm” to happen intheir lives to help them realize how good they have it. Alcee and Calixta cameaway from the storm realizing that they had each found the love of their livesand it wasn’t each other. Neither wanted to loose their love, “So the stormpassed and everyone was happy.” English

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