My last duchess

Report
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
When you hear the word
‘duchess’, what do you think
Duchess
of? What do you expect?
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
In pairs, sort these
words from the poem
into categories.
Miss
e.g. colours
Last
Hands
Look
Glad
Painted
Stands
Glance
Name She
Design
Passion
Cherries
Alive
Pictured
You
White
Wonder
Sit
Husband
Blush
Cheek
Wrist
Paint
Gift
Throat
Faint
Joy
Disgusts
Commands
Object
My
Bronze
Stooping
Rise
Smiled
Based on your word groups, what do you think the poem is about?
How does this link to control?
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
What connotations are there
from these phrases?
spot of joy
too soon made glad
lady’s wrist
approving speech
half-flush
she smiled
Is this Duchess a positive or
negative character? Why?
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
too soon made glad
What connotations are there
from these phrases?
How can this
link to the
theme of
control?
Is this Duchess a positive or
negative character? Why?
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
That’s my last
duchess
What connotations are there
from these phrases?
sit and look at her
My gift of a ninehundred-yearsold name
you disgust me
I gave commands
all smiles stopped
Is the Lord a positive or
negative character? Why?
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old
name
How can this
link to the
theme of
control?
What connotations are there
from these phrases?
Is the Lord a positive or
negative character? Why?
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
Thinking time:
• What are the Duchess’
faults, according to the
Lord?
• Why does he keep her
painting on the wall
behind a curtain?
(“That’s my last Duchess
painted on the wall”)
How can this
link to the
theme of
control?
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
‘My Last Duchess’
Context
• This poem is based on historical events.
• Duke Alfonso II of Modena and Ferrara (1559–1597) married
Lucrezia de Doctors in June 1558.
• She was the first of his three wives and is believed to be ‘the
last duchess’ of the poem.
• She died four years after her wedding.
• The Duke’s second wife also died.
• The Duke married his last wife, Eleanora Gonzaga, in 1572 –
and she outlived him!
• Browning’s involves the reader by drawing us into the
conversation – we feel as if we are being addressed directly.
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
TASK: explore the theme of CONTROL in My Last Duchess
by Robert Browning
In ‘My Last Duchess’, control is shown by …
When Browning writers “…”, it reveals…
The concept of control in this relationship links to
the male-female relationship is ‘Les Grandes
Seigneurs’, because...
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
WALT: explore the theme of CONTROL in My Last Duchess
by Robert Browning
PLENARY: alternative thinking
He controls her…
…does she control
him in any way?
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
Extension Questions
1. Find clues about how the Duke feels about the picture of his
last Duchess.
2. Find clues which tell you about the personality of the woman.
3. How did the Duke feel about her behaviour?
4. What might have happened to her?
5. What does the Duke say about how people react to the
portrait?
6. What impression do we get of the character of the Duke?
7. Themes: What other key themes are represented here?

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