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In "My Last Duchess," why is Fra Pandolf important?

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getsmart123 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 22, 2011 at 11:51 PM via web

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In "My Last Duchess," why is Fra Pandolf important?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 23, 2011 at 2:00 AM (Answer #1)

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Fra Pandolf is the name of the painter who painted the famous portrait of the Duke's last Duchess that is being surveyed by the Duke and his guest during the poem. We are told how "busily" Fra Pandolf's hands worked to create this masterpiece. However, it is also important to note that Fra Pandolf, who is a character that we never meet in person during the course of the poem, is also used to signify the obsessive jealousy of the Duke. Note where else Fra Pandolf occurs in this poem:

Sir, 'twas not

Her husband's presence only, called that spot

Of joy into the Duchess' cheek; perhaps

Fra Pandolf chanced to say, "Her mantle laps

Over my lady's wrist 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. She had

A heart--how shall I say?--too soon made glad,

Too easily impressed...

The Duke imagines that even in response to Brother Pandolf's innocent compliments his last Duchess had her interest in other men kindled. The fact that Fra Pandolf was probably part of a religious order and therefore celibate emphasises the jealous nature of the Duke. He imagines his last Duchess to have "looks" that "went everywhere," especially, it is implied, to other men apart from himself. Thus we can argue that this character is used to emphasise the character of the Duke himself and his obsessive jealousy.

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getsmart123 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 22, 2011 at 11:51 PM (Answer #2)

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because she is the painter of the dukes widow,

 

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