Imagery In Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess Essay, Research Paper
In Robert Browning’s poem, My Last Duchess , the imagery of wealth and power are cleverly illustrated through the use of the fictitous painter , Fra Pandolf.
The use of Fra Pandolf by Robert Browning is to clearly indicate to us the reader that it was a very expensive painting. The imagery of wealth in this poem is used to divulge cruelty or evil intent. We see the cruelty in his character , with the callous way he revealed he had murdered his wife,
I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped. There she stands
As if alive.
Extreme wealth equals extreme power, how else would he have been able to murder his wife without facing imprisonment. He shows his wealth through the use of Fra Pandolf,
That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
to mention the name of an artist, is to allude to famous painters we can refer to as being very expensive, possibly even priceless. To mention the name twice,
“Fra Pandolf ” by design,
is to allow us the reader to begin to immediately draw conclusions about this man’s character.
The importance of the use of Fra Pandolf is to reveal the character of the man.
For the reader to begin asking questions about what type of man he is, this is important because the man is giving his ’side of the story’,
A heart — how shall I say?–too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed;she liked whate’er
She looked, and her looks went everywhere.
He is trying to evoke our sympathy. That he had this philandering wife and all he wanted was to please her. Yet, our suspicion was been aroused when he keeps referring to his status,
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
We begin to have a glimpse of what life might have been like for the unfortunate duchess. To live with a man so consumed by wealth, that he grew jealous of her happiness and considered it ridiculing him if his wife was pleased by anything save himself,
Quite clear to such an one, and say “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me ; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark”
It seems that the duchess lived in museum and was an excepted to be part of the artwork, and with her refusal to be part of the duke’s exhibit , she ended up being part of tour herself in death.
In this poem we see how the very wealthy have a different set of rules reserved just for them and they use their wealth or lineage to justify extremely bizarre actions, as seen when the duke just admits to murdering his wife and then casually makes mention of marrying again,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
How bizarre is this duke that discuss famous artist’s , money and murder in one breath.
We can see that the duke has been so preoccupied with his own wealth for so long that he lives in a museum and he considers himself above the law.
Fra Pandolf was almost a metaphor for deceit and the evil that consumes the super-elite.
The duke wanted to portray his story as if he was the victim, and
among his social set he most surely was. That here he was , a duke , and he had all the possessions a man could possess; he had Fra Pandolf ! Yet, the one thing he could not entirely possess was the faint blush of pleasure from his wife’s fair face. So, he found a way to encapture her totally. The duke had her painted, very expensively( of course) and quietly erased her living presence. He placed her image behind a curtain and had her painted on his wall; probably so she could never be removed from his home.
The use of Fra Pandolf illustrated to us the importance of appearances to the duke.