The Duke Character in My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

(Used just for representation)
Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess" first published in Dramatic Lyrics in 1842, is one of the best of his many dramatic monologues. It was titled "Italy" but later changed to "My Last Duchess" in 1849. This poem is the reflection of the characters of the egocentric and power-loving Duke of Ferrara, Alfonso ll of Italy, and his late Duchess Lucrezia de Medici who died at the age of 17.

In " My Last Duchess", the character of Duke is portrayed as having controlling, possessive, jealous and arrogant traits. These traits are not all mentioned verbally but mainly through his actions. Browning reveals the Duke's character through the words the man uses to describe his late wife.
 It seems that he is speaking about an object rather than a person he has loved. He reveals his jealousy as he mentions that she seemed to catch other men's eyes. He says she was" too easily impressed; she liked whatever She looked on, and her looks went everywhere". These lines show that she was a very beautiful woman and he was afraid of losing her. He could not stand the way the Duchess treated him the same as everyone else. This shows his possessive nature. He was not only afraid of losing her but also he is more concerned over his loss of control over her. The Duke enjoys the control he has over the painting. He could not control his wife in life but now he can when she is dead.

The Duke reveals his arrogance by stating "as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody's gift". He says that she loved the Cherry Blossoms and the setting sun as much " the gift of[the Duke's] nine-hundred-years-old name. His vanity and pride are obvious as he speaks of his noble heritage and how the duchess does not seem to respect his "gift" he has given her. He expected her to be proud of the name she acquired through him and to flaunt it.
Throughout the monologue, the duke also gives the impression that he is admiring the art work and appears to have more of a relationship with the painting than his former wife "I call that piece a wonder now"
While showing off a portrait of his last duchess, the Duke begins to remember their lives together, and although he chooses his words carefully as he speaks he ends up telling the visitor more than he realizes. By doing so he not only reveals information about his former wife but also he hints that he ordered someone to murder his last duchess "This grew, I gave commands" .here he implies that he became annoyed with her for ignoring him so gave orders for her to be killed " Then all smiles stopped together". He did so that he would not have to watch her befriending others.
 The Duke then shows the messenger the statue of Neptune taming the sea horse that was made for him. Neptune the god is a reflection of the Duke just as Neptune tames the sea horse so too does the duke wish to tame and control his duchess as he believes that the universe revolves around him.
Throughout the dramatic monologue, the Duke reveals his pride, his vanity, and his need for control. His arrogance and jealousy stem from his aristocratic ancestry. He is a shallow human being unable to ever show true love to his Duchess.