Explain this quote 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...

Explain this quote 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,

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The biggest puzzle in Browning's poem is: Why did the Duke have his wife murdered. He talks and talks about her and shows his visitor a portrait of her which the Duke himself declares to be "a wonder," and yet he had her killed without even trying to tell her what it was he objected to about her behavior or personality. 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.

What is unique about "My Last Duchess" is that it is a long explanation which explains nothing but succeeds in exposiing the wicked, vulgar nature of the man offering the explanation.

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