I need explanation of these lines from "My Last Duchess".
She rode with round the terrace all and each Would draw from her alike the approving speech, Or blush, at least. She thanked men good! but thanked Somehow I know not how as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame This sort of trifling? Even had you skill In speech which I have not to make your will Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this "Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss
3 Answers | Add Yours
In these lines Duke of Ferrare gives a list of complaints aganist his Duchess saying that she has spoiled his age old aristocratic name Este and he continues to grudge that she was so innocent that she showed no difference between her husband and other men, who came to his palace to meet him. She thanked every men who offered gifts in the same usual manner just as she thanked the Duke, her husband. In other words she was too socialable and polite that the Duke misunderstood her virginity out of his jealous mind. She has equalled the Duke's dignity and honor with other comman men by her friendly nature, where the Duke cannot equal himself with lower class people for he is born in an aristocratic family which makes him proud of himself.
These lines bring out the contrast between the haughty duke and the simple duchess who had the capacity to enjoy the small pleasures of life. The high minded Duke hated it when he saw that his wife was able to draw the same pleasure from "small" things as from the title of the duchess and was as polite and thankful to eveyone as she was to the Duke. He could not understand how she kept the gift of "a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody's gift". And so haughty and proud he was that he felt it degrading even to tell his Duchess where, according to his standards, she was going wrong.
The Duke acknowledges that he lacks skill in expresssing himself. He says, "Even had you skill in speech which I have not..." Therefore his entire explanation of what he objected to in his wife's behavior is difficult to understand. He did not complain to his wife about her democratic and friendly manners for several different reasons. He couldn't express himself. He felt she might fail to understand him if he did managed to express himself adequately. He was afraid she would argue with him, which was something he couldn't tolerate. He was afraid she wouldn't change even if she did understand him. And finally, he himself seems perfectly well aware that his fault-finding is unjust. She is a better person than he is, by far, and he wants to be a better person than her or than anybody. But there is nothing admirable about this man. He tries to be cordial, but he is hopelessly arrogant. He thinks he is noble, but he is ignorant and vulgar, as shown in the fact that he cannot even express his thoughts clearly. He thinks of himself as a connoisseur of art, but all he knows is how much things cost and the impression they make on other people. He had a beautiful young wife who was nearly perfect in every respect, and he could not understand or appreciate her--although everybody else loved and admired her. She was getting the attention and adulation he wanted for himself.
We’ve answered 396,032 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question