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by Robert Browning

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What is the allusion used in the poem "My Last Duchess" by Robert Browning?

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Duke, the speaker of the poem, is pretty materialistic. He is clearly quite fond of owning things, controlling who gets to see them, and so on. He name-drops two different supposed artists in the poem: Fra Pandolf, who painted the portrait of the last duchess; and Claus of Innsbruck, who sculpted the statue of Neptune taming a seahorse. Now, neither of these two artists actually existed, so the names that the Duke drops are not actual allusions in themselves, but these names function like allusions because of the way he strategically employs them. They sound like real names, like real artists of the time, and the Duke obviously expects his auditor to be familiar with the artists he names. In this way, he seems to be trying to establish himself not only as a connoisseur of culture and the arts but also as someone with the influence and money enough to commission and/or purchase these works of art. He is, after all, trying to settle a new marriage contract, and so he seeks to...

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