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GCSE English Literature - Power and Conflict Poetry AQA > My Last Duchess > Flashcards

Flashcards in My Last Duchess Deck (28)
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What heavily influenced Robert Browning as a child?

His father's extensive collection of books and art.


What languages had Browning learnt by the age of fourteen?

Latin, Greek and French.


What poet was Browning a big fan of?

Percy Shelley


Who did Browning marry?

Fellow poet Elizabeth Barrett


Where did Browning and Elizabeth move to?



What is Browning best known for his use of?

Dramatic Monologue


What does My Last Duchess reflect?

Browning's use of Dramatic Monologue and his love of history and European culture,


What is the poem based on?

The life of an Italian Duke from the sixteenth century.


True or False?
The characters in this poem are based on real life, historical figures.

The narrator is Duke Alfonso II who ruled a place in northern Italy called Ferrara.


What year is the poem set in?

1564, three years after the death of the duchess.


What meter is the poem written in?

Iambic pentameter.


What does the poet use to mimic unrehearsed speech?

A variety of punctuation.


Although the poem is written in rhyming couplets, how is the sense of rhyme lost?

Through the use of enjambment.


What does the use of personal pronouns reflect?

The narrator's high opinion of himself and his selfishness


What poem can be compared to My Last Duchess?



Summarise the poem briefly:

The Duke speaks to a messenger sent by a ruler to secure marriage for his daughter.
The Duke boasts about his art and a portrait of his former wife.
It becomes clear that the Duke was controlling and possessive.
It is strongly hinted that he arranged for his 'last duchess' to be killed.


What are the main ideas that the poem explores?

Arrogance, pride and power
Oppression of women


What is the primary way that the Duke's obsession with power is illustrated through the poem?

He wants to dominate all aspects of his wife's life.


What is the irony in the poem?

The Duke is trying to impress the messenger but he is just shown as being jealous and insecure.
Reputation and honour were of huge importance to the Duke, this is very ironic, as the poem mocks him and his pompousness.


What is the curtain a symbol of?

The Curtain is a powerful symbol of masculine dominance. (Even in death, the Duke has authority over the Duchess)
The curtain is also a reminder that the Duke wasn't able to control his wife fully when she was alive


How is the possessive pronoun of "my" used in the poem?

The possessive pronoun throughout links to the Duke's view that his wife belonged to him.


What line implies that the Duke had the Duchess killed?

"This grew; I gave commands; / Then all smiles stopped together."


What is the purpose of the use of caesura in the line "This grew; I gave commands; (...)" ?

To break the line into short phrases, highlighting the swiftness, coldness and ruthlessness with which he disposed of her life.


What techniques does Browning use to portray the Duke as arrogant, self-entitled and power obsessed?

Rhetorical Questions
Boastful Language


What is an example of a rhetorical question in the poem used to portray the Duke as arrogant, self-entitled and power obsessed?

"Will't please you sit and look at her?"
-The Duke is posing this as a question, but it is really a command.
-This emphasises his power and his pride.


What is an example of boastful language in the poem used to portray the Duke as arrogant, self-entitled and power obsessed?

"Notice Neptune, though, taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity, / Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me"


What is an example of name-dropping in the poem used to portray the Duke as arrogant, self-entitled and power obsessed?

"Fra Pandolf"
-The Duke is reminding the messenger he is a wealthy man who can afford an expensive painter.


What is an example of aside in the poem used to portray the Duke as arrogant, self-entitled and power obsessed?

"If they durst"
-establishes that people fear the Duke
-The mentions it to the messenger to show that he wants people to know of his reputation