Characters and speaker

Three characters appear in the poem “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning: the speaker, the Duchess and the listener, who is probably a servant. The only active character is the speaker. 

The speaker

The speaker is most likely a persona of Alfonso II d'Este, the fifth Duke of Ferrara, as the note before the poem indicates. The Duke of Ferrara was a real historical person who married Lucrezia di Cosimo de' Medici, a 14-year old with a very rich dowry. In real life, the Duke and Lucrezia were married for three years, but he had abandoned her the last two years of their marriage. After Lucrezia’s death, the Duke tried to remarry and courted two other rich women from the European nobility.

In the poem, the speaker appears to be proud of the art work he possesses, particularly the painting of ...

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