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But in a monologue, part of the fun is figuring out who is this guy? This particular dramatic monologue is thought to be spoken by the 16th-century Italian Duke of Ferrara, who was a real dude.
He was born into a comfortably middle-class family and married fellow poet Elizabeth Barrett.
He's best known for his , of which 'My Last Duchess' is one.
It's about him thinking she's being flirtatious with lots of other men. Even had you skill In speech - (which I have not) - to make your will Quite clear to such an one, and say, 'Just this Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss, Or there exceed the mark' - and if she let Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse, --E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose Never to stoop. So even if he were just to frankly say 'I like this, and I don't like this,' he still thinks that would be 'stooping.' He won't do it; he's above that. I repeat, The Count your master's known munificence Is ample warrant that no just pretence Of mine for dowry will be disallowed; Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed At starting is my object. He's a servant of this count, whose daughter the Duke of Ferrara is planning on marrying next.
So she has no idea that he's displeased, and he thinks that's her fault too probably. And he clarifies that he's going to be getting a large dowry but then insists that 'his fair daughter's self' is his true 'object,' the true thing that he wants.
Here we start to get a hint of the answer to what the duke's relationship to his wife might be.
He's commenting on the fact that she's lit up with joy, not only at his presence but at any compliment.And it's interesting how he begins to describe the painting as his wife - 'there she stands,' and 'Will't please you sit and look at her?' We know she's dead ('looking as if she were alive' he mentions) and yet he talks about her as if she were here, as if the painting were just her.Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt, Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without Much the same smile? We get the final re-articulation of the problem: She smiles the same smile to everyone. We don't really know, but it seems important, and it's quickly followed by 'There she stands / As if alive.' Can we assume that these 'commands' in some way led to the stopping of the smiles and the ultimate demise of the young wife? Robert Browning later clarified that he did mean it in a sinister way - those commands are not good commands. The shift - from 'I probably killed my first wife' to 'so let's talk about preparations for marrying my second' - is really chilling.This grew; I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. Now we get to the end: Nay, we'll go Together down, sir.The dramatic monologue, again, is making it a game to figure out what's really going on with this guy. but thanked Somehow - I know not how - as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody's gift.This revision and stuttering - the break for 'I know not how' - tells us we're getting to something important; he's having a hard time articulating this. We see that he thinks she should be grateful to him for getting a 'nine-hundred-years-old name.' We can surmise maybe that her name isn't as old as his or not really as grand.As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 79,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more.Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.You can kind of tell because it's got 'my' in the title.That tips you off that it might be in the first person and therefore might be a monologue.