What is the Duke's voice in "My Last Duchess"?I'm having trouble identifying the voice. I get tone, but not voice.

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the two terms have become conflated, which is to say they may be used interchangeably.  To dilineate a difference is to split hairs, I think.  And it is akin to snobbery.  I make no distinction between the two.

The speaker's voice or tone in "My Last Duchess" is one of arrogance, jealousy, misogyny, and patriarchy.  He sees women as objects, like the very painting he illustrates to the messenger.  He prides himself on his 900 year-old name.

Reputation, as you know, was once tied to one's identity and soul.  Cassio, in Othello, says, "O! I have lost my reputation. I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial."  The duke's last duchess did indeed insult his reputation by glaring and smiling at everyone in the same manner.  How dare she be equitably nice to everyone?  In his eyes, she should reserve her glares and smiles for him alone, privately.

That he thinks she might have cheated on him with the painter does not matter.  Whatever reason he invents to condone his attitude toward her is inconsequential.  He has reified her, turned her into property, and her death is nothing but a dismissal to him.  And his words to the messenger are a warning to the next duchess.

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My Last Duchess

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