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
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