Describe the personality of the Duke of Ferrara.

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As in all of Robert Browning's dramatic monologues, the speaker reveals his character and personality both consciously and unconsciously by what he says. By the time the reader has finished "My Last Duchess" he or she will have acquired a vivid impression of this Duke of Ferrara with the nine-hundred-year-old name. He is suave and polite. He treats his visitor with great courtesy. No doubt this habitual exterior hides a creature who is cold, selfish, cruel, acquisitive, and proud. He prides himself on being an art lover and a person with a great appreciation of beauty; however, he seems totally insensitive to real beauty and only interesting in acquisitions, both of valuable objects and of beautiful wives with good family backgrounds and substantial dowries. He is, in fact, a horrible monster disguised as a polished nobleman. He is as loathesome as a reptile, and the reader must feel sorry for the poor girl he intends to make his "next" duchess.

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