My Last Duchess Questions and Answers
by Robert Browning

My Last Duchess book cover
Start Your Free Trial

How does Browning show the relationships between men and women in `My Last Duchess?`

Expert Answers info

Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write7,057 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

The Duke who narrates Browning`s `My Last Duchess`is portrayed in the poem as giving a tour of his art collection. The Duchess is introduced as the subject of a painting, and thus as an objct collected by the Duke rather than an independent and living person. As the Duke begins to describe the Duchess, the reader is given a sense of the importance to him of possession. He resents any attention the Duchess paid to anything other than himself because it undermines his ownership of her. Just as he treats the art objects of his collection as something private, only to be displayed to others according to his own choices rather than freely as in a museum (not the portrait is behind a curtain). The discussion concerning the new potential wife is introduced as the narrator moves from discussing the portrait of the last Duchess to pointing out the statue of Neptune, suggesting that the Duke views women as ornamental objects to be collected rather than as independent agents.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial