My Last Duchess Questions and Answers
by Robert Browning

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Did the duke kill the duchess?

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Robert Browning's dramatic poem "His Last Duchess" leaves little doubt that its narrator, a duke of palpably tyrannical and possessive temperament, murdered his young wife himself or had her slain by servants. Her crime: a joyous and spontaneous nature that took pleasure, as any young woman might, in the myriad diversions of social life. Although the duke's fierce jealousy is aroused by the fact that

she liked whate'er

She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.

he seems most incensed that she's no more impressed by the gift of his noble lineage in marriage than by the simple yet tangible gifts of other men. The haughtiness of this self-styled esthete won't permit him to even attempt to 'correct' supposed defects of hers that "disgust me."

and if she let

Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set

Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse--

E'en than would be some stooping; and I choose

Never to stoop.

Browning suggests the madness that lies beneath the duke's controlled surface in his belief...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 772 words.)

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