What about the Duchess?

Browning’s Poem, “My Last Duchess”, is told in a jealous tone of voice by Alfonso II, the Duke of Ferrara, as he recalls his last marriage to the Duchess before she became deceased. Throughout the poem the reader concludes that the Duke was unhappy with his marriage mainly because of the way his Duchess would portray herself and act toward others, but were those really her intentions? How would their relationship change if told from the Duchess perspective?

As the Duke describes his wife’s painting to the servant, a spot on her cheek resembling joy, is described (line 14-15). This description provides a positive image of the Duchess from the start. She can be pictured as a happy woman who is always open to life’s wonders, but the Duke grasps it in a negative way imagining scenarios that may have never crossed the Duchess mind such as the reason for that spot of joy is because of the painter’s compliments towards her (lines 15-21). The duke himself stated that she was a woman whom was “too easily impressed: she liked whate’er” (line 23) and was always thankful “with anybody’s gift” (line 34). Based on those two statements, the reader can conclude that the Duchess was not someone hard to please and was extremely nice, smiling at everyone with the same smile. That smile given “no doubt, whene’er I passed her; but who passed without much the same smile?” (line 43-45) was not a smile the Duke was pleased with. The Duke acted in a selfish way when she shared the same amount of love towards him and towards other. He always wanted to be the only one and wanted more for just himself.

But if told from the Duchess perspective, the reader, like myself, would not see such a negative picture of envy painted across the poem. Based on the Duchess actions and descriptions, she seemed like a very bubbly person with a welcoming and friendly personality. The Duke sometimes took her actions to the extreme and imagined scenarios that may not have even crossed the Duchess mind when she was performing them. I think their relationship would have had change if told from the Duchess perspective in the sense that the Duke would be much more thankful for her and we would get her perspective as a happy woman eager to be serving her husband. Their relationship would be a much more lovable one and if told from her side, I don’t think we would sense hate or jealousy from her side of the story because she already isn’t portrayed that way by the Duke, much less would she portray herself in that matter if she were to be describing her own self.

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