hello everybody and welcome to this video where I’m going to go through the poem my last Duchess by Robert Browning as you can see on the screen this is all taken from mr. Bruce guide to my last Duchess you can pick that up through following the link in the video it’s exclusively available at mr. broth calm what I’ve done is in the past when I’ve done these poetry analysis videos they’re so detailed that people say I can’t write it all down so what I’ve done is I’ve written up everything I’m about to tell you and it’s about four and a half thousand words in total and you can download it through clicking the link below so let’s have a look at the poem the first thing to do when you’re analyzing a poem is to look at the poet but it’s really important that you don’t just learn everything about the poet when we’re analyzing a poem it’s important to just study those biographical details of the poet’s life which seem key to understanding the poem itself so with my last Duchess this is quite a challenge because Browning’s dramatic monologue was not written from his own point of view but that of a fictional character my last Duchess is set in the Italian Renaissance and focuses on a controlling and possibly insane Duke how can that possibly link to the poet’s own life well nevertheless there are some biographical details worth looking at which might help us understand the poem a little better here is browning himself so browning was born in 1812 in London died in 1889 in Venice he didn’t enjoy school much and he ended up being homeschooled by tutors who educated him using his father’s library which had 6,000 books in it now this brave move played off because by the age of 14 he was fluent in Latin Greek French and Italian and age twelve wrote his first book of poetry in 1845 browning married Elizabeth parent now Barrett the famous poet herself but the marriage was kept secret to begin with as Elizabeth’s father was domineering and controlling in 1838 browning visited Italy for the first time and he would end up living there for much of his adult life and wrote poems that say things like open my heart and you will see graved inside it Italy and my last Duchess was published in 1842 so what can we conclude why am I telling you these particular details about the poet’s life well firstly we can see the poet lived during the Victorian era which is important I’ll talk about that in a second but secondly the details of Barrett’s controlling attitude towards his daughter posed a striking resemblance to the Duke in my last Duchess but this is what we call a red herring because actually this poem was written before the two met so these are the sorts of things you have to look out for when you analyzing poetry it’s not about his father-in-law he hadn’t even met him by that point you’ve got to be careful when you find those details of course the fact that browning visited Italy shortly before the publication of the poem would back up the idea that actually it might be based on a true story heard whilst he was travelling but I’ll talk about that a bit more in a bit next we’re going to look at the context now context is an important thing for me to explain here because if you are taking this poem as your GCSE on the AQA exam board in 2015 or 2016 then you do not write about context in the exam there are no marks awarded for it however if you’re studying for a different exam board and I’m aware that these videos that are viewed across the world or even if you’re studying for the 2017 onwards GCSE eads then context is assessed so I don’t want to write off context and because I know that some people will you know be interested to know about it so what we mean by the word context we essentially mean what was going on at the time that the poem was written although my last Duchess is set in the Italian Renaissance between the 14th and 16th century it was written and published during the Victorian era in 1842 so we should examine what was going on in Victorian England to see if there’s anything which seems important to our understanding of the poem there are a few things to talk about of course the Italian Renaissance is the famous Renaissance painting by Raphael on the left and Victorian England are two very different times but quite often if a poet or and novelist has an idea or a message that they want to get across they’ll and it’s quite a sort of shocking or critical message about the society that they live in they will quite often then set their text in a different context so that it kind of curves it up a bit and they’re not just openly criticizing or not so openly criticizing the context that they’re writing in well one of the major issues were studying context is that it can take hundreds of hours of study and a lot of that might revolve around topics which are irrelevant to the poem being studied so my advice is to look at the general contextual topics surrounding when a poem or a text was written and then to think about which one’s should we look at further which one’s seemed to be relevant to the poem so let’s do that with my last Duchess 1842 that’s the early part of the Victorian era and during this period of time there was an array of changes in society three major areas industrialization mass migration from the country to the city in 1837 80 percent of the population lived in the countryside most people worked on farms or spun wool but with the Industrial Revolution came machines that could complete the work in a fraction of the time and as a result people began moving into the cities to get work and within a dozen years or so 50 percent of the population lived in the city industrialization is a huge factor in Victorian England but doesn’t seem to be something that we see in the poem the second one is an attitude to women attitudes to women were changing in the Victorian period a woman’s role was seen as the angel of the house who existed to serve and entertain a husband but that was beginning to be challenged women were not given the same educationist men but the suffrage movement was growing and the battle for equality was also growing the third one is religion attitude to religion were being challenged due to the theory of evolution scientific developments which seemed to disprove some biblical teachings and there are and minor ways we could link religion to the poem but obviously the key thing contextually is attitude to women now whether you’re writing about context or not you still need to write about the writers ideas and themes which in this case will link to power and gender discrimination so if you’re doing this exam 2015 or 16 AQA you don’t want to write about Victorian England but you do want to write about the poet’s ideas and messages relating to gender power women and that kind of thing so let’s go into a little bit more detail about what it was like for women in this this time period well the first thing is when a woman married she became the legal property of her husband which is just unbelievable really and women were not allowed to testify in court women could not vote it was actually believed that women were incapable of rational thought and at the time there were many female writers but a lot of them published their works anonymously or under male pseudonyms in order to boost their book sales and get their work taken seriously Jane Austen for example published all of our novels anonymously so it’s a very shocking time of inequality when it comes to attitudes to women and this topic is obviously a relevant contextual factor in the poem the whole poem explores attitudes to women so could it be that Browning uses the poem to explore his opinion on this topic I think it could it is possible to see this poem then as a criticism of Victorian attitudes to women and their effort to suppress female sexuality it can be argued that the Jukes obsession with fixing the behavior of his wife links to Victorian society’s obsession with the reputation of women being perfect we could also suggest that Victorian men are weakened by their dependency on power that they over women and the way in which Victorian men are obsessed with their power over women is certainly something we see in the poem and it seems that the men in this context saw their wives as a reflection of themselves there is a different context to this poem as well which is obviously when it was set and this is just an aside for a minute or two is quite interesting but it’s not something you’d write about in the exam but it is useful in it to help our understanding of the poem lots of speculation about whether this is based on a true story and who it is based on and you know nothing’s known for sure so I’m not going to go into it but many of Browning’s poems including my last Duchess were set in Ferrara which is a town in Italy now Browning seemed to be pretty much obsessed with the place he researched its medieval history and in my last Duchess it’s believed it was based on this guy alfonso ii he was the fifth Duke of Ferrara and his first wife died in suspicious circumstances there’s an idea this might be based on that but as I say this is the kind of detail that you’re not actually going to write about in the exam it’s interesting but it’s not something that you you know will be relevant to an exam response and of course Browning’s not the first poem to focus his poet sorry to focus his work on the lives of despotic Italian people and Dante’s Inferno has a number of stories of various cruel Italians John Keats was another poet who focused on a similar topic and his poem Isabella now when you’ve understood a bit about the poet and a bit about the context it’s important to just get the literal meaning of the poem and obviously what I’m trying to do in this video is teach you how to analyze all poems in in in literature so what just really what’s going on in the poem and what I’ll do is say because it’s a long poem I’ll translate it into modern English for you so that’s my last Duchess painted on the wall looking as if she were alive I call that piece of wonder now from pandas hands worked busily a day and there she stands so what we have is the speaker who of course is the Duke he’s looking at a painting showing somebody a painting and he’s saying that’s a painting of my last wife on the wall there it looks lifelike or perhaps it’s suggesting something else which I’ll talk about later and I would say that painting is a very realistic portrait a famous artist worked hard all day painting it and there she is then the poem moves on and says will’t please you sit and look at her I said Farah Pandith by design for never read strangers like you that pictured countenance the depth and passion of its earnest glance but to myself they turned since none puts by the curtain I have drawn for you but I and seemed as they would ask me if they Durst how such a glance came there now what does that mean well basically the Duke is saying we please sit down and look at the painting and I name-dropped the famous artist for our Pandolf on purpose because people always look at this painting and they turn around and they want to ask me how is it that that look on your wife’s face was arrived at and everybody asks that question and so and not the Thursday you to turn and ask this cert was not her husband’s presence only called that spot of joy into the duchess his cheek perhaps for our planned off chance to say her mantle laps over my lady’s risk too much or paint must never hope to reproduce the faint half-flush that dies along her throat such stuff was courtesy she thought and cause enough for calling up that spot of joy now what does this mean well basically and the Duke is saying no it wasn’t only me you could make my wife look so happy so the look on his wife’s face is a kind of blush or a look of of happiness and he’s saying no it’s not just me as her husband who could make her feel that way it might be that the artist flattered her perhaps saying your shawls too long pull it up a bit show a bit of flash you know being a bit flirtatious or maybe he told her that you know oh it’s impossible for paint to recreate something so beautiful as you and she was so delighted that she blushed back to the poem 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 so it was all one my favour at her breast the dropping of the daylight in the west the bough of cherries some officious fuel broke in the orchard for her the white mule she rode with round the terrace all and each would draw from her alike the approving speech or blush at least – what’s he saying here bizarrely he’s saying that she was a woman who was too easily impressed by things she liked everything she looked at and she looked at everything and everything was the same the effect I had on her as her husband was the same as when she looked at the sunset or when somebody who admired her bore her some cherries or when she rode a horse everything impressed her and made her happy she blushed with delight at everything moving on then she thanked men good but thanks somehow I know not how as if she ranked my gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name with anybody’s gift who’d stop to blame this sort of trifling even had you the skill in speech which I have not to make your will quite clear to such an one and say just this all that and you disgusts me here you miss or there exceed the mark and if she let herself be lessened so nor plainly set her wits to yours for sooth and made excuse even then would be some stooping and I choose never to stoop a little bit sinister now coming him so what’s he saying he’s saying well she thanked people she was polite as a woman and that’s good but she thanked people in a way that it made me feel like she wasn’t sufficiently grateful for the ancient and honored surname which became hers when we got married and you know who’s going to lower herself themselves to argue with her even if I was a good enough communicator to do it and I’m not I wouldn’t do it I’d have to lower myself down to her level to tell her to stop behaving this way and I never lower myself back to the poem I will says she smiled no doubt when I passed by but who passed without much the same smile this grooc i gave commands then all my smiles stopped together there she stands as if alive so this is the the really ambiguous part of the poem basically saying you know sir she smiled whenever I went by but then she smiled like that at everybody and in the end I gave some commands and we’ll talk about that later and then there were no more smiles but in this painting she looks lifelike or perhaps in this painting she looks alive will please you rise we’ll meet the company below then I repeat the count your masters known munificence is ample warrant that no just pretense of mine for dowry will be disallowed though his fair daughters self as I avowed at starting is my object they will go through together down sir notice Neptune though taming a seahorse thought a rarity which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me so at this point we realize who the Duke is speaking to and he’s speaking to an Envy who works for somebody else so he’s basically saying will you please stand up now I’ve shown you the painting of my last wife I’ve told you the story of her that she was too happy and everything made her happy and you know therefore I stopped that now we’ll meet the others downstairs the count your boss is so rich I’m sure he’ll give me a nice financial incentive for marrying his daughter but what I want is the daughter herself and not the money so much and before we go down have a look at this statue it’s a statue of Neptune the Roman god of the sea taming a seahorse and it’s a rare statue and by a famous artist so the poem is long and is quite confusing but you know really it’s just a man showing another man a painting of his ex-wife which bizarrely is kept behind a curtain so you pull back a curtain there’s a painting of his wife smiling and she’s got a sort of rosy cheeks or she’s blushing and he says you know what everything made her happy and I didn’t like that so I stopped it and now I want to marry the daughter of your boss and let’s go and carry on our conversation so let’s have a think there she is the beautiful my last Duchess let’s have a think of the theme of this poem then now we understand the basics of the poem it’s important to consider the major themes what is the poem trying to say we need to move beyond what happens in the poem which is the subject to what the poem is trying to say does it have a message or a moral and and there are a number of themes but all of them revolve around one major theme which is power there are two distinct types of power demonstrated in the poem there’s political power which we see through the Dukes political power and is demonstrated through the ambiguous line I gave commands the reader is left wondering who were these commands given to no-doubter a servant some sort of social inferior and then there’s domestic power the Duke wishes to assert the power that he has in his kind of political sphere over his wife and and that links to the themes of the role of women and gender roles sexism inequality that kind of thing so now we’re going to have a look at the language that is used in the poem when you’re analyzing any literature texts you analyze through language structure and form now language refers to the words which are used by the poet and it’s the simplest type of analysis and it’s the one which most students write about first so you’re basically picking out words or phrases which seem important sometimes it might be similes and metaphors but it might just be a single word that seems to be significant if you can though in your exam you should aim to analyze and make points about structure and form because those are the trickier bits so structure refers to the organization of a poem so it’ll be thinking about things like where do the verses break where do the stands break if at all why do they change where they change is there variation in verse length that is the poet user Jean want repetition Rhine what’s the rhythm like weather the stress patterns change is there a rhyme scheme is it free verse where’s the punctuation why is it important but we only want to analyze the structure if it links to something important about the poem so for example if you’re going to write about the exclamation mark at the end of the poem you only want to write about it if you can link it to the theme of power or whatever the exam question is about and form is referring to the times when poets follow particular rules about the organization of a text so is it a sonnet is it a dramatic monologue is it a ballad but again you’ve got to link it to the theme or the exam question it’s no good just what we call device spotting like all there’s a simile there’s a metaphor you know there’s some alliteration it’s why is that important and how does it help our understanding of the poem and I think one of the key things about this poem as we move into analyzing the language is that we first need to establish did the Duke have any cause for concern with his last wife because the Duke says things like and I can’t remember if I put it on the animation here or not no I didn’t okay so the Dukes are to make you dizzy with the animation the the Duke says things like her looks went everywhere and this makes the readers think you know what is he implying that his wife was promiscuous did she flirt with other people but I don’t think the Duchess and I’ll explain this again in a second I don’t think the Duchess was a flirt or promiscuous at all it’s clear that the Duke was disgusted with his previous wife but it’s ironic when we look at the qualities of the Duchess she was actually humble grateful and she was pleased by simple things such as the dropping of the daylight so she seems to have an almost childlike innocence to her but that’s not necessarily a positive at the nineteenth-century feminist writer mary wollstonecraft wrote that while children should be innocent when the epithet is applied to men or women it is but a civil time for weakness in other words we expect children to be innocent but if if adults are innocent we’re basically saying that they’re weak so in other words the wife is presented by the Duke is weak and undeserving of such an amazing husband that he is so no the Duchess didn’t do anything wrong I will explain that further in a second the Duke is just this controlling and you know mad man and that’s where we’re going to now move into the use of language and to present that so what I’m what I’m going to do is I’m going to look at the characterization of the Duke how the Duke is presented and I’m going to analyze language and then structure and form to look at how the Duke is presented here’s the poem all on and one tooth amazing so the first thing to talk about is the pronoun by which is repeated throughout the poem and that shows how the Duke is possessive it’s all about him he’s self-obsessed and he believes that his wife and belongs to him so he’s not only possessive but he sees her as one of his objects that he owns the next thing is the talk about FRA Pandolf this famous artist now FRA Pandolf and Claus of Innsbruck are both name-dropped they’re not real artists but they are for the purpose of this poem used to show how vain the the the Duke is you know when people know somebody famous and they want to throw it into a conversation it’s showing off its being vain but the title FRA is also important frier means brother and that title brother suggests that the artist was perhaps a monk or certainly a religious figure so the suggestion here is that the P she was painted by a monk or you know some religious figure and why is that important well it seems that browning wanted to make it clear that the artist was not at all romantically involved or even flirting with the Duchess and so when the Duke says old you know that he might have said this he might have flirted with her or given her a little you know flirtatious comment to to sort of provoke the look in her face it seems that he’s actually just being paranoid which again if this is a monk or religious figure again backs up the innocence of the Duchess she’s unlikely to have actually and been suspicious in any way here if you know it’s just a religious figure who is painting her what about the word sir and the manner in which the Duke speaks the envoi through the term sir and you these are formal terms of address they actually might seem quite polite to a model reader but they’re not they clarify the Joop superiority and over the envoi the more personal terms of vow and thee might have been used if they were on a friendly terms or equal terms so the Duke is keen to point out that he is socially superior and I would say this presents him as condescending now a couple of things here the Duke is proud he feels perhaps the fact that his wife has married him and an in doing so has inherited this nine hundred year old name is something she should be delighted at it’s a gift so my surname is brough okay so when I married my wife Claire Cunningham was her name and when she married me she became Claire brough and in this analogy she should be delighted and proud and of the fact that I gave her my name brough so this is very proud character being presented it’s also a character who’s disingenuous who lies to us who is clearly not telling the truth because he says I could have stopped to speak to my wife and tell her you know what she was doing wrong and what annoyed me but I don’t have the skill in speech and you think we’re hang on a minute you do have skill in speech for a start you’re talking in perfect iambic pentameter which I’ll come to in a minute but also you know you’re delivering this long well-structured argument to your visitor and you know someone you don’t know so don’t kind of pretend you wouldn’t be able to you know just have a chat with your wife and say look could you stop doing this it’s really frustrating me so he’s disingenuous there’s reason to believe that we can’t trust everything that he says he’s also self-obsessed which is seen through the repetition of the pronoun I you can see the arrows here pointing I choose I passed I gave I repeat he this man is self-obsessed it’s all about him which is of course you know what we see through the repetition we then see a very controlling aspect of the character when he seems to ask questions there’s a question earlier on will please you sit and a question now will it please you rise but these are not really questions at all their demands the Duke frames his demands as questions but make no mistake this is a social superior demanding something from an inferior he’s a controlling character and we see that through the fact as well that the Duke remained stood so the envoi sits down and that is a symbol when we look up to people that so the envoi would literally have to look up to the Duke and of course that’s something that we learn from a child to parent relationship this symbolism of looking up to someone we say I look up to him I admire him it’s a symbol of a child looking up to a parent so the Duke makes the envoy’s sit down and in doing so symbolizes again his controlling and character but also the fact that he is you know the superior so not a very pretty picture presented at all of the Duke and the language in the poem suggests that the Juke is proud possessive controlling vain condescending disingenuous self-obsessed and irrational there are a couple of other interesting things now the poem doesn’t have a lot of poetic devices in it such as similes and metaphors and on the one hand that makes sense because this is supposed to be a poem which has a dramatic monologue and is just like a conversation so in real conversation we don’t talk in similes and metaphors do we but there are a couple of examples where there are metaphors and and one of those is with this piece of artwork which is talked about at the end of the poem and the Claus of Innsbruck and statue of Neptune taming a seahorse now what does that mean well Neptune was the Roman god of the sea and he is presented as in this picture as this big strong barrel-chested and you know masculine domineering God and here he is in the sea taming a wild creature so that reflects that is a metaphor for the Duke himself and how he feels or what he feels his role is over women women I am here to domineer and control you and to tame you you know this is my domain you’re in the sea the world which is the man the male-dominated society of Victorian England remember you know obviously it’s set in Italian Renaissance but in terms of what browning is saying and the man’s job is to dominate the woman and to tame her as if she’s wild there’s also another metaphor in the poem which is of course the painting itself as I talked about earlier it is hidden behind a curtain which only the Duke can pull back now it’s interesting to think about this because the Duke didn’t like that his wife smiled at people everybody he just wanted those smiles for himself now what he’s done is he’s got a painting her first smiling and he’s put a curtain in front of it which only he can pull back so now he gets to control the smiles of his wife and have them just for himself which is what he wanted in life and so we can see quite a clever a bit of metaphor and symbolism here that he gets to control the wife his past wife and in theory his future wives as he wants very clever now of course it’s ambiguous all the way through did he have his wife killed for what he didn’t like in her or not and I’ll talk about those ambiguities in another section of this video but let’s have a look at the form of the poem my last Duchess is an example of a dramatic monologue which means that the poem contains a single person giving a speech to somebody else but the speaker is not the poet so this isn’t Robert Browning talking and the listener the envoi is silent throughout we don’t hear them speak now what that means is we’re listening to a one-way conversation and that’s a form which is used in poetry because it allows us to identify the speaker’s character from what they say the reader becomes almost a detective analysing Clues which reveal key details about the speaker in this case the Duke and there’s a gap between what the speaker wants us to know and what the reader can read between the lines this poem is written entirely in iambic pentameter which is lines of ten syllables per line with every other syllable being stressed and the rhyme scheme is also tightly controlled with the whole poem being written in rhyming couplets so let’s put those two things together you can see wall call handstand said read etc this tight control of an rhyme scheme and the amount of syllables per line reflects the tight control of the Duke how he is an extremely controlling character so that is an example of form reflecting content that the way the poem is formed reflects the character of the Duke himself but it goes a little bit further that as we look at structure because the poem contains enjoyment now when I read the poem just a second ago it wouldn’t have sounded like the the lines were rhyming it wouldn’t have sounded obvious where the rhyme scheme was because although at the end of each line rhymes the sentences actually run over the lines so the sentence for example if you look here that’s my last Duchess painted on the wall looking as if she were alive that is the sentence and then this is a sentence I call that piece of wonder now for our plant those hands worked busily a day in there she stands so our enjoyment from the French is the technique where sentences run over the lines and I think this is quite clever number one because the poem is supposed to be real speech it wouldn’t seem real if the sentence is ended at the end of each line and the couplets stopped at the end of each line because it would sound mechanical it wouldn’t sound like real dialogue but an alternative interpretation and you’ve got to look for alternative interpretations to hit those highest grades in the exam is that the enjoyment reflects actually that the Duke doesn’t have complete control he himself is quite uncontrolled and wild in his anger so although he does everything he can to control others which is reflected in the tightly controlled rhyming couplets and the Arabic I am bit pentameter the fact is he can’t control himself seems with the enrollment he can’t stop sort of this blurting out of all this emotion and also you could say he’s uncontrolled because look at what he’s talking about he shouldn’t be talking about these things to essentially someone connected with his future wife so the image that we create all that is created here is this crazy man who can’t control his outbursts and of course we can look at the structure as well and say well the poem is one long verse remember I talked about in structure we should look at where do the verses change why is that important but if the verses don’t change if it’s just one long verse that’s also important to think about why is that why is that significant well again I think it tells us a few things about the Duke fact that the verses don’t stop and and change it all reflects how the Juke doesn’t stop he doesn’t stop to think about what he’s saying he just gives his own explanation of events he doesn’t care about his listener particularly he just spouts out his thoughts in a kind of stream-of-consciousness style but we should also consider the effect on the reader when we read this poem aloud with no major breaks or pauses because there are no stanza changes we are overwhelmed we’re almost breathless from the immensity of the poem and this overwhelming aspect reflects how the Duke himself is an overwhelming character so again the form of the poem reflects what the character of the Duke is like as I said there’s some ambiguity in this poem it’s possible to think that and the Duchess is dead and was murdered by the Duke B or at least he called for her to be murdered because he didn’t like the way she was behaving but it’s also possible to think perhaps they I don’t know split in some other manner we see this line as if she were alive now when he’s looking at the painting he says look at this painting of her as if she were alive and that can have two possible meanings it could mean the painting is lifelike you know it looks almost photographic in its lifelike representation of my former wife or it could mean look it looks like she’s alive there because she is actually dead now spoiler alert browning did give an interview where he explained that this is a quote yes I meant that the commands were that she’d be put to death and that explains the next line I gave commands so she’s smiling all the time and he doesn’t like it and then he just says in this cold short brutal line I gave commands it’s ambiguous because we think well what commands did he give did he say to a look you need to stop smiling all the time or did he give commands that she be killed and as I said Browning did give an interview where he said it was about her being killed the line is ambiguous but it’s important to know that browning did clarify the ambiguity so why is the hospital that happy with his wife he seems to suggest that it’s because she’s just happy all the time and smiles at everything but there’s an ambiguity in this line as well where he explains her looks went everywhere it almost suggests as I talked about earlier that he was jealous of what his wife was looking at maybe she was eyeing up men but again this just seems to be a paranoia because he was also paranoid that perhaps the the artist had given some flirtatious comment and you know it doesn’t seem to the dispassionate reader that that’s likely given the fact that the artist was a religious figure so to finish off this analysis that one way of looking at it is that it is a poem about power it is a poem about complete control despotic control that the Duke has and how he uses that power to have his wife killed for no good reason now if we look at it in that sense we can interpret the poem as being about male power gender roles in Victorian England how men have complete control over women but there is another way of interpreting the poem which is to think about it actually as a portrayal of the Dukes weakness not power we can think that sorry his um his insecurity is seen in this line her looks went everywhere so he’s looking at his wife and she is just looking around smiling at people and she’s happy about everything and he’s paranoid he’s insecure he thinks this means something when perhaps it doesn’t and the fact that his dialogue is this sprawling in some ways uncontrolled speech and and it seems careless the details he’s giving to the envoi also suggests weakness but I think the cleverest thing about this poem is that even if we read the poem at face value with it being a poem about a man who didn’t like the way his wife acted so he had her killed that still presents the week at the Duke in some ways as being weak because and this links to the Victorian society again Browning’s poem can be read as a message that Victorian men are weakened by their dependency on the that they have over women it can be argued that Victorian men saw their wives as a reflection of themselves and this disempowered them but to put it a different way why is it so important to the Duke that he has control over his wife now of course we never hear the wife side of the story the silenced voice again reflects the absolute control the Duke has whenever you study a poem if it’s a dramatic monologue it’s often important that we don’t hear the other side of the story in a game that reflects how you know women in Victorian England were and you know silenced voiceless their opinions were not valid as I said earlier in a court of law and all the rest of it women were not seen as important we don’t hear the other side of the story and that reflects what society was like at the time and in this way the Jews desire to control his wife’s behavior can be read as a metaphor for Victorian society’s obsession with the behavior and reputation of women the fact that Duchess did not reserved her smiles for her husband alone is seen as this huge problem for the Duke and in the same way Victorian women were considered to be failures if they didn’t give their lives over exclusively for their husbands so there are two ways of interpreting the poem male dominance and male power through this oppressive control or the fact that actually if he feels that he has to control his wife and if he feels that what she does is such a reflection of him and on him then that’s weakness because he should be his own person and his wife shouldn’t him in any way reflect him at all so I hope you found this video useful please do and pick up the PDF version which you can get you know as I say to be following the link at the bottom of the video if you’ve made it to the end here well done it’s a long long video took me ten or twelve hours to prepare and so it would really help out if you picked up the the poetry guide there and the thing about this poetry guide which is why IMing offering exclusively through mr. broth calm is that it it’s going to grow I’m going to add more and more poems to it and as I do that I will resend to everybody who’s bought it the new and updated version so you might think it’s just one poem but it will add and grow and grow if you do pick up a copy of the guide I’ll just show you the sort of thing it looks like so you’ve got detailed notes and paragraphs explaining basically everything I’ve gone through in this video and then annotations like this color-coded annotations to all the important bits so it really is going to help you with your studies it’s 17 pages in length four thousand six hundred and ninety-four words and so please do pick up a copy
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