Themes: Marriage/Love, Men seeing women as possessions, Jealousy, Madness, Power

Type: Dramatic Monologue/ Rhyming Couplets


  • Written by Robert Browning
  • Inspiration for the poem was Alfonso II whose wife died of suspicious circumstances
  • Lucrezia was a Medici “Didn’t have a nine-hundred-year-old name”


  • Fictional speech by a Renaissance Duke who is conducting a marriage negotiation
  • Duke’s overreaction to his wife’s genial nature makes him abusive, controlling husband
  • His was upset that she smiled at the sunset, “I never stoop” he feels killing her is the only way and a chilling depiction of a man obsessed by power
  • Ruthless man with absolute power


  • Art collector – displayed privately in order to impress people and demonstrating status
  • Way to reduce unstable elements like the Duchess – now he only has a painting behind a curtain, which only he can open


  • Duke murders his wife because she smiled/blushed at other people
  • Only remedy is murder
  • Jealous of the attention his wife gave other people – jealous of every smile and blush
  • He loves her but wants all of her love for himself

Structure and Form

  • Dramatic Monologue
  • Regular meter (rhythm) – fixed number of stressed syllables
  • Written in pentameters – form the closest approximation to natural conversation, helping to convey the sense of natural speech he wanted
  • Written in rhyming couplets uses enjambment
  • First person – not the poet’s voice but rather the character of the Duke he has created
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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