What kind of abuse follows from the Duke's attitude that men of great power often see their families as extensions of their power?Men of great power often see their families as extensions of their...

What kind of abuse follows from the Duke's attitude that men of great power often see their families as extensions of their power?

Men of great power often see their families as extensions of their power. What kind of abuse follows from this attitude?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As far as the poem is concerned, the Duke expresses his anger at his wife sharing her smiles and seemingly innocent happiness with all she comes into contact with--not simply saving them all for him.  She did not respect is age old name by worshipping only him--she found pleasure in all things and everyone around her.

In addition, instead of letting her know what she was doing to upset him (for he "never stoops" so far), he simply "gives orders" and her "smiles stopped altogether".  These are all signs of the Duke's abuse of power toward his wife.

He expected her to worship him and what he stood for--to be an extension of his name, his position, and his reputation--but he refused to teach her what she needed to know.  It was easier to have her killed and then just to look at her "hanging on the wall as if alive" whenever it suited him.

He warns the emissary of the "next Duchess" to heed the lesson to be learned from the last Duchess and then points to the other objects he owns as a demonstration of his wealth and self-importance.

 

kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One type of abuse would involve taking advantage of their fellow family members for the greater gain.  They will also sacrifice and betray family members for the greater gain.  Power breeds greed and the need for more power, which causes many people to lose sight of what is truly important in life.  Power can be very addictive, as we can see through examples all over the world.  Many rulers of countries have abused their power for their own personal gain, including our own presidents!

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My Last Duchess

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