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What is the tone of the poem "My Last Duchess" by Robert Browning?  

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cassandra79 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 19, 2012 at 2:27 PM via web

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What is the tone of the poem "My Last Duchess" by Robert Browning?


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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 19, 2012 at 4:20 PM (Answer #1)

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The tone of Robert Browning`s `My Last Duchess' is not a simple matter. The poem is a dramatic monologue spoken in the voice of the Duke. Thus we can talk about the tone the Duke uses, but the effect of the poem as a whole is to undermine the Duke and reveal aspects of his character that he might be trying to keep hidden. Thus the subtext has a rather different tone than the surface text.

The Duke`s tone is that of a collector showing off a collection, and speaking of his Duchess in the same distantly appreciative manner in which he speaks of bronzes. There is an undercurrent of possessiveness to his speech though, that is amplified into a sort of cold suppressed anger by the time he reveals that he `stopped`his wife`s smiles.

The poem as a whole though, gives an effect of repulsion in reaction to the Duke.


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