The Sense of Pride and Possession in the Duke of “My Last Duchess
The Duke of Ferrara in “My Last Duchess” is the embodiment of pride and possession that is verbalized through his attitude and collection of paintings. Robert Browning chooses the best way to present the self representative Duke through his Dramatic Monologue which he fathered. Hiring of Fra Pandolf and Claus of Innsbruck, two imaginary sculptors, collection of paintings, fame of ‘nine-hundred-years-old name’, Neptune taming a sea-horse all represent his pride and controlling attitude.
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The Duke likes the painting of his last Duchess more than her when she was alive as he has full control on her portrait now. He can uncover the curtain and enjoy her smile when he wants. He wanted her to smile only to him and did not tolerate it with anybody else. He thought his fame of ‘nine-hundred-years-old name’ should make her happier. But she was common and smile with common present of any common person. Her heart could be made glad with anything common. She did not distinguish between the ornaments of the duke, ‘the dropping of the daylight in the west’, and the ‘bough of cherries’ of ‘some officious fool’.
The duke did not want to stoop himself correcting her rather gave command and ‘all smiles stopped together’. Her portrait is ‘alive’ but when she was alive she was nothing but a subject of shame to the duke. As a duke he did not love his Duchess rather gave command that reflects his heartlessness. He regarded the Duchess as a thing of possession expected her to follow none but the Duke.
Of course he has aesthetic sensibility and love for art. He described every details of ‘the depthe and passion of its earnest glance’ of his Duchess to the envoy. But it is worthless searching liveliness killing a living one. In the downstairs of the Duke there is a sculpture of Neptune taming a sea-horse that expresses nothing but the taming and controlling mentality of the Duke. It is what the Duke desired for and it is what he will desire for as well.