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My Last Duchess: Poem Annotation

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I have drawn the conclusion that you the Count should not precede with the marriage plans. Further, I would advise you to cancel the wedding. Since, I met the Duke of Ferrara I have this feeling that he is not a good party for your daughter. As the duke and I stopped by his collection of individually commissioned art, he showed me the portrait of his late duchess. While discussing the portrait of the last duchess, he reveals himself as a domineering husband who regarded his beautiful wife as a mere object; he said that “I call that piece a wonder, now“. He refers not only the painting, as well, his wife as “the piece”, an object. Indeed, he values his wife as highly as any other piece of art. Nevertheless, he regards his wife as a “wonder, now” in the painting; as she was not much worth when she was a life. He described the portrait as “That’s my last duchess” that shows the presence of the feeling of possessing the duchess, whose sole mission was to please him. He also said that “She had a heart –how shall I say? – too soon made glad, too easily impressed; she liked whatever she looked on, and her looks went everywhere’. I have the impression that the duchess was an enthusiastic and enchanting young woman who was full of life and charms. However, her husband misunderstands true nature of hers. “Sir, twas not her husband presence only called that spot of joy into the duchess’ cheek”. Regardless, the duchess effort to please her husband, he saw her action as a betrayal. He wanted to be treated differently than other men and to preserve her smile for him. As he said that “Whenever I passed her; but who passed without the much same smile?” in fact he wanted to tame the Duchess and subject her to total domination and over powering control; however she has continually defied him by simply smiling. He even hides the portrait behind the curtain so that only he can see the portrait and not anyone is allowed to open the curtain except him; “since none puts by the curtain I have drawn for you, but I”. The Duke keeps the full-length portrait covered because he believes he is revealing his taste when in fact he is revealing his true nature which is that a man's wife be entirely subservient to his will. He feels that his name holds power “My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name”. I gave the impression that the duke is egocentric and self-loving man who has an exaggerated sense of his own importance. I have the suspicious that he hides something or have something to do with the death of his late wife, as he tells me that “This grew; I have commands; I gave then all smiles stopped together”. The only way the duke can stop the smiling of the duchess is by killing her. As he cannot control his wife he gave commands to stop her beautiful smile. The Duke finds only satisfaction in manipulating and controlling others; the outward and visible signs of his imposing his will being wealth. He thought that his wife was not grateful therefore the duke committed act of cruelty to perceive the appreciation. The arrogant affability of the conclusion makes it clear that the Duke is both insane and frighteningly in control. The duchess only mistake was that she enjoyed the simple pleasures of life rather than to be impressed by the duke’s wealth. The duke even gave me the feeling that by saying “Or blush, at least. She thanked men—good! but thanked somehow – I know hot how – as she ranked my gift of nine hundred years old name” as an excuse, mainly himself, for taking revenge on his wife who had unwittingly wounded his absurdly pretentious vanity, by failing to recognize his superiority in even the most “trifling” matters.

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