Please elaborate on the following lines from "My Last Duchess."
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will't please you rise?
We'll meet The company below, then.
I repeat, The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay we'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!
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You have quoted the final section of this impressive and rather chilling dramatic monologue, which reports how the "smiles" of the last Duchess stopped completely after the Duke had given certain "commands," which we are meant to understand referred to the death of his Duchess for his displeasure with her. The way in which the Duke is able to comment on this in such an unaffected way and then carry on the conversation as if nothing untoward has actually taken place adds to our impression of the calculating and chilling nature of his character. He is certainly somebody that believes he is so important that he can kill with impunity.
Even more disturbing is the way that these final lines reveal the identity and the purpose of the listener to this monologue. It is the servant of another lord who is trying to marry his daughter to this Duke. This of course forces us to re-examine the entire monologue and the purpose of the Duke for showing this man the portrait of his last Duchess. He clearly is sending a message of the kind of obedience and loyalty that he expects from a wife. The way that he describes "his fair daughter's self" as his "object" reflects his objectification of women and how he refuses to treat them as humans. As if to underline the point, the poem ends with the Duke showing off yet another of his treasures in the form of a sculpture. Wives to him are yet another art form to be owned and displayed according to his whims, and are never allowed a reality of their own.
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