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The Duke is showing a visitor a portrait of his recently deceased wife. During this dramatic monologue we get a vivid impression of his character. His outstanding characteristic is that he is extremely proud of his noble rank and his old family. He thinks of himself as a connoisseur of art, but it seems clear that he just enjoys owning things and being able to show them off. He is cruel. He is incapable of love. He didn't appreciate his former wife, who was kind and affectionate. He appreciates her portrait more than he appreciated the living woman. Towards the end of the poem we realize that he actually had his "last duchess" murdered because he disapproved of her behavior. He wanted her to be proud, supercilious, arrogant, and cold like himself. Now he is looking for a new wife, and we feel sorry for whatever poor girl he marries because he will be just as demanding and just as unloving with her. He cares a great deal about money and shows some concern about the dowry he expects to get with his new bride. "My Last Duchess" is the most frequently anthologized of Browning's dramatic monologues.
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