Date of publication: 2017-07-09 10:17
How uptight was England s Victorian society of the 6855s? A historical article titled 89 Sexuality and Modernity 89 explains that 89 The Victorian bourgeois may have covered their piano legs out of modesty. 89 That s right, those pent up Victorians were turned on by the sensuous curve of a piano s leg!
The poem is set during the Italian Renaissance. The Duke of Ferrara and another person are standing on the grand staircase in his palace, looking at the painting. At first, perhaps, we think that the Duke is speaking to us, the reader, directly, but it is revealed that he is speaking to a representative of the Count of Tyrol, with whom he has been negotiating a new marriage.
The courtier is impressed, perhaps even mesmerized by the smile of the woman in the painting and he asks what produced such an expression. And that s when the dramatic monologue begins:
The Duke previous wife (his last Duchess) is in all likelihood dead. He got rid of her because he felt that she undervalued him and his position and she treated him like she would have any other man. We know this from the lines: &ldquo as if she ranked/My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name/With anybody&rsquo s gift.&rdquo To the Duke, his family position is everything. He is, after all, the Duke of Ferrara, and his family can be traced back for nine centuries, almost a thousand years of aristocracy. His wife failed to live up to his standards, and so he seeks a new wife.
The speaker really has an internal voice going on here: it's like he is just noticing the landscape around him thinking, "oh a yellow moon". The second stanza tells us this guy is on a mission. There is a sense of direction and focus to his.
So why then does Browning delve into the mindset of a misogynistic sociopath, not just with 89 Porphyria s Lover, 89 but also with the deviously cruel poem 89 My Last Duchess 89 ?
Though written in 6897, 89 My Last Duchess 89 is set in the 66th-century. And yet, it speaks volumes of the treatment of women in the Victorian time of the Brownings.
He feels that communication with his own wife is beneath his class. Instead, he gives commands and 89 all smiles stopped together 89 (line 96). Keep in mind, he does not give commands to his wife as the duke indicates, instruction would be 89 stooping. 89 Rather, he delivers orders to his minions who then execute this poor, innocent woman.
Barrett s father, although not a murderous lord from the 66th-century, but he was a controlling patriarch who demanded that his daughters stay faithful to him, that they never move out of the home, not even to marry. Like the duke who coveted his precious artwork, Barrett s father wanted to keep hold of his children as if they were inanimate figures in a gallery.
The duke's exuberance over the work leads him to call it "a wonder." It seems likely that, the duke regularly introduces this portrait to his visitors, who regularly take note of the "joy" appearing on the countenance of the duchess.
During the duchess life, the duke explains, his wife would offer that beautiful smile to everyone, instead of reserving her look of joy exclusively for her husband. She appreciated nature, the kindness of others, animals, and the simple pleasures of everyday life. And this disgusts the duke.