Both "To His Coy Mistress" and "My Last Duchess" express distinct attitudes toward women. Each possesses a unique speaker whose attitude powerfully shapes what the poem communicates.

Look carefully at the language of the two poems and answer one of the following questions:
  • How does Browning's "My Last Duchess" reveal the Duke of Ferrara's attitude toward women?
  • How might a female reader have trouble identifying with the speaker in both poems?

As a follow up, post a question or comment about one of your classmate's interpretations.

Mary Sine
10/3/2012 06:39:25 am

How does Browning's "My Last Duchess" reveal the Duke of Ferrara's attitude toward women?

In the poem "My Last Duchess" the Duke of Ferrara, who is the speaker, objectifies women. He starts by talking about the painting of his deceased wife to his guest, and says in lines 9 and 10, "But to myself they turned (since none puts by/ The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)." The statement about the curtain over the painting reveals that he sees the painting of his wife, and also his now deceased wife as something he owns and can put away or show off whenever he wants to. Later in the poem, he says that he would have been able to tell his wife off, for smiling at other men too much or perhaps even having affairs, but he didn't. This show that he feels that he didn't feel he should drop down to her level, and that shows that he doesn't think very highly of women in general, and in an arrogant and insecure way, thinks himself better than her. At the end of the poem, he is no longer talking about the painting, but to the representative of a count, who's niece he wishes to marry. Here, at line 51 to 53 he says, "Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;/ Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed/ At starting, is my object." The author's diction there with the word "object" further emphasizes the Duke's objectification of women. He doesn't just say that the woman is what he really cares about in the marriage, instead of the dowry, he says that she is his object. That implies that he will own her, as if she is just an item for display, like the painting of his last duchess. Finally at the very end of the poem in line 54, he starts to talk about another piece of art, a sculpture of Neptune, this makes it seem as if he is just showing off his property, which he is. Showing off his property, further cements his view of women as objects, and not people themselves.

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10/3/2012 12:25:37 pm

I liked your progression of points here, Mary. You did a really good job at outlining parts of the poem from the beginning to the end that helped show the Duke of Ferrara's view of women. I was glad that you touched on line 54 as an example.

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Kelti Lorence
10/3/2012 06:40:10 am

"How might a female reader have trouble identifying with the speaker in both poems?"

The most obvious point, would be that the speaker is a man and thinks differently than a woman would. As a girl, it is not easy to see and agree with his view on women. In both peoms the narrators are rather cruel in their address, looking to use the girl for personal wants, not once asking how they feel on the matter. Women tend to want things to move slower, enjoying the entire process leading up to things. They prefer taking the steps in order, and become strongly devoted when they decide to be. Men don't always understand this mindset. Some are willingly to give girls their space and take things at their pace. However, most know what they want and when, and do not like to be deterred from it.

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Celeste Y
10/3/2012 07:04:27 am

Kelti I agree with your points. I liked how you presented your ideas. Women definitely do not think the same as men, good point!

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Ariana
10/3/2012 12:15:36 pm

Kelti, I like how you pointed out how women want things to move slower. You have good ideas. Nice job!

Celeste Yahr
10/3/2012 07:00:39 am

"How might a female reader have trouble identifying with the speaker in both poems?"
A female reader might have trouble because the speakers are both pretty egotistical men. In both poems the speaker acts as if it is his way or the highway. In "My Last Duchess" the speaker went extreme and killed her for not living up to his high and selfish expectations. In "To His Coy Mistress" the speaker wants one thing from the girl and mocks her for not wanting it as well. Both speakers are not thoughtful of the girl's feelings. Women are very emotional people and like to feel certain of situations before they put themselves out there. Neither speaker fully understood this and objectified the women.

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Carley
10/3/2012 07:03:21 am

Celeste, I really like how you used the men's egos to show why it's hard for women to identify with them. I hadn't thought too much into it until now and your argument makes a very good point.

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Hannah H
10/3/2012 07:16:41 am

Celeste, this was a very good responce to the question. You explained things really well and brought up arguments, that like Carley, I hadnt thought about. Well done!

Mackenzie
10/3/2012 05:58:17 pm

Celeste, I really liked how you explained how men are acting in each of the poems. Great job!

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Carley
10/3/2012 07:00:52 am

How might a female reader have trouble identifying with the speaker in both poems?
There are quite a few reasons why a female reader might have trouble identifying with the male speaker, but the most significant reason is because men and women typically have different mindsets when it comes to relationships. In both of the poems, the speakers look down on women, as if they are more superior than the women they are addressing. Both speakers are also more selfish with their wants and desires, not really looking out for the girls' opinions. Women usually want to take their time with relationships because they want a solid basis for their relationship to sit on before they take any next step. It seems that the men in these poems don't fully understand that and they know what they want and they don't want no for an answer. So, when a female goes to read either of these poems, it's harder to identify with the speaker because it's hard for women to see either of the men's viewpoints.

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Emily
10/3/2012 12:40:17 pm

I liked how you mentioned that women like taking things slower than men how that's a reason men could look down on them. It's a good point.

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Hannah H
10/3/2012 07:15:16 am

How might a female reader have trouble identifying with the speaker in both poems?

Female readers have trouble identifying with the speakers of these poems becuase,The speakers of "To His Coy Mistress" and "My Last Duchess" are moking them. They have a hard time understanding the thought proccess of the speakers, because they tend to take their time, and enjoy their independence. Women dont objectify themselves,as the speakers do, so its hard to read the poem and picture yourself (in the position of the women) and be able to relate to the thoughts of the speaker. In "To His Coy Mistress" the speaker mocks the girl's aproach to take things slow, and becomes comanding when he doesnt get what he wants. In "My Last Mistress" the selfcentered speaker treats the girl like property. Both speakers dont consider or even ask about the girl's opinions and they dont take underconsideration that they are emotional people, and everything means that much more to them. Because of this, female readers cant fully grasp, or relate to thoughts and opinions of the speakers.

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Trevor
10/3/2012 04:20:38 pm

I am surprised how many girls chose to answer this prompt. It is interesting to see that the girls have some very different ideas than I do about why a girl has a hard time relating with a guy. I like your last point about opinions.

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Ariana
10/3/2012 12:12:35 pm

How might a female reader have trouble identifying with the speaker in both poems?

The main reason a female reader would have trouble identifying with the speaker in the poems is that women think differently than men do. In both poems the speakers look down on the women and do not appreciate their opinions. Both speakers are selfish in their desires and do not consider the girls wishes. In “ His Coy Mistress” the speaker mocks the girl for wanting to take things slow in the relationship; he then becomes commanding and aggressive to try and persuade her to do things his way.In “ My Last Dutchess” the speaker proudly and arrogantly shows her off as an object. Both speakers don't ask for the girls opinions or consider their emotions, desires or ambitions. Because of the speakers' different viewpoint from women, it's hard for female readers to completely identify with the speaker.

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10/3/2012 12:19:46 pm

How does Browning's "My Last Duchess" reveal the Duke of Ferrara's attitude toward women?

Browning uses several things in his poem, "My Last Duchess," to reveal how the Duke of Ferrara feels toward women, including word choice. The first example of word choice that suggests something about the duke feelings can be found in the title. The duke refers to his past wife as his "last duchess." The word "last" does not suggest affection or love toward the duchess, nor does it suggest anger. Instead, it seems to suggest more indifference; the duke, as we soon understand, is expecting to have a new duchess soon, just as he might have a new coat or a new painting soon. Similar word choice can be found in lines 52 and 53 where the speaker states, "Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed/ At starting, is my object." I may repeat a few things that Mary said here. The choice of the word "object" to describe someone who is soon to be the speaker's wife is extremely revealing. It shows that the duke thinks of his future wife, and therefore probably his past wife, as mere objects rather than people. Earlier, in lines 34 and 35 the speaker says, "...Who'd stoop to blame/ This sort of trifling..." in reference to his last duchess' tendency to be content in more than himself. The word "stoop" suggests that the duke feels it would be stooping to address any issue with her, which reveals that he thinks of women as lesser to himself.

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Mary Sine
10/3/2012 04:16:52 pm

Hannah, I liked how you mentioned the title and how it pertains to his view of women. You made some great points, good job.

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Emily
10/3/2012 12:37:42 pm

How does Browning's "My Last Duchess" reveal the Duke of Ferrara's attitude toward women?

Well, Browning implies in his poem that the Duke killed his wife simply because he THOUGHT she might have another lover. He sounds very possesive. He had a picture painted of her that he shows off to people, like any other item he would own, so he is proud of having her but wants her to only be his. He also might have the idea that women should be seen, not heard because of the painting. It can't talk, and he seems perfectly content with that. Overall he seems like he would be overwhelming and maybe abusive.

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Megan Wall
10/3/2012 12:49:58 pm

I agree with what you are saying, I really enjoy your insight that the picture is, "seen and not heard."

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Lacayah
10/4/2012 03:33:01 am

I agree. I like how you took it a step further and didn't just look at his idea's but into his character and identity in the relationship.

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Megan Wall
10/3/2012 12:40:55 pm

The title, “My Last Dutchess,” reveals the Duke’s attitude toward women by using a personal pronoun and a very specific sequence word. The word “my” in the title reveals that the Duke sees women as his, or as an object. This is not just seen in the title, but throughout the entire poem. Lines 54-56 are symbolic of his view of women, “…Notice Neptune, though, taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity, which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me.” It is by no coincidence that he mentions “Neptune,” who is the Roman god of water. By bringing in this detail of the god that was in taming the sea horse he is putting himself on the same level as a god, and is simultaneously putting women on the same level as something to be tamed. The sentence ends with the words, “for me,” which again prove how self-centered the Duke is. The second word in the title, “last,” has equal importance to the first word because he is suggesting it was his former “love.” The words “former,” and, “last,” do not show great respect for the person that is being talked about and hint that they can be replaced easily. This connotation is not just held within the title, but is also proven in line 45, “…I gave commands.” When used in the context he is implying that when he tires of a woman, he can give the commands to kill, or “take care of the problem.” In closing, the title, “My Last Dutchess,” exposes the Duke’s controlling attitude toward women.

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Mika
10/3/2012 01:19:27 pm

You have some really great ideas. I really like your your theory of the Neptune quote.

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Tristan Rude
10/3/2012 03:51:39 pm

I think all you're points are valid. Its kind of interesting that you can have such a different interpretation of different things than I do too.

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Brady
10/3/2012 04:21:44 pm

I didn't think of Neptune of symbolizing himself as a god but it makes total sense. Good observation!

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Mika
10/3/2012 01:17:18 pm

The Duke of Ferrara thought of women as a possession. The fact his dead wife is now only a painting shows his position over her. He can hide her behind a curtain or show her off whenever he pleases. He is saying that not only as a painting was she an object, but when she was alive and real she was too. Directly after he shows his guest the painting, he abruptly changes the subject to show the guest his bronze statue of "Neptune... taming a sea horse." He is making it clear to his guest that women are owned by men. When he speaks to the guest about buying the guest's daughter, he says "is my object." A synonym for the word object in this circumstance would be "goal", but he uses "object" purposefully to once again prove that women are possessions.

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Tristan Rude
10/3/2012 03:47:11 pm

The Duke of Ferrara though of women as objects. Objects that hold no value other than usefulness to the owner. The Duke in the poem expressed some sentiment with his remembering, "My favor at her breast." Here the speaker shows that he at least held some affection for his wife at one point. He obviously had lost any love for her at the point at which he was showing her portrait off as just an other possession, one which can only viewed by those he chooses, "since none puts by/ The curtain I have drawn for you, but I." He then just moves on to show off another piece in his collection of objects.

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Trevor
10/3/2012 04:13:16 pm

Robert Brownings “My Last Duchess” reveals the Duke of Ferrara’s attitude toward women. After the speaker, the Duke of Ferrara, finishes showing off the beautiful painting of his deceased wife, he invites his companion to go with him to go with him and meet another girl who he says “is my object”. The speaker clearly shows no respect toward women, implying that they are simply there for his own pleasure. He thinks women are simply a piece of property that can be easily disposed of, like his wife, or picked up like a new car.

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Brady
10/3/2012 04:20:14 pm

How does Browning's "My Last Duchess" reveal the Duke of Ferrara's attitude toward women?

In the poem, "My Last Duchess" the Duke of Ferrara's attitude toward women is very apparent. The footnote reveals that the Duke's last wife died of "suspicious circumstances". He then goes on to have the representative of a count, whose daughter he wants to marry, and has him look at a painting of his "last duchess". He acts as if he is putting her on display by stating "since none puts by the curtain I have drawn for you, but I". He believes her to be his object to put on display and says words like "my" and moves on to the next painting without emotion. The speaker then explains how "she smiled, no doubt, whene'er I passed her; but who passed without much the same smile". He believes that she should specially treat him and be reserved just for him but "Who'd stoop to blame this sort of trifling?" He believes that he shouldn't have to tell her how to act, she should just know. Near the end of the poem he describes "I gave commands; then all smiles stopped together." This is saying that he gave the order to have her killed. This man believes women are objects and should be completely subordinate to him.

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Mackenzie
10/3/2012 05:56:02 pm

How might a female reader have trouble identifying with the speaker in both poems?

A female reader may have trouble identifying with the speaker in these two poems because, obviously these speakers are men. Men and women have different points of view when it comes to relationships. While the men in this poem, and many other men, try to convince women into one thing to satisfy their own needs, women like to really enjoy a relationship and get to know someone first. Women enjoy the experience of a relationship, therefore it may be hard for a woman to truly understand the thoughts that the male speakers in these two poems are thinking and why. While they may not admit it, this poem, on the other hand, is probably very relatable to most guys out there.

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Kendall
10/3/2012 06:09:08 pm

Kenz i completely agree, you did a great job of describing how most women feel towards relationships and what most guys initially want from the relationship.

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Kendall
10/3/2012 06:06:04 pm

In the poem "My Last Duchess" the Duke of Ferrara's attitude toward women as very degrading and possesive. He does this by fequently referencing his deceased wife as his possesion, refering to her as nothing more than an object. When the speaker says, "That's my Duchess painted on the wall" he isn't just saying thats my wife on the wall. He really uses the "my" in "my Duchess" to exclaim to the reader that she belongs to him degradding her to sound as if she is less than human, without human characteristics. This reflects the possesive attitude of the Duke. Again the speaker says, "But to myself they turned (since none puts by the curtain I have drawn for you, but I)" cementing the possesive attitude. This quote is saying that the Duke is able to take his Duchess out and put her away whenever he feels, shaping her as an object that is his and in his control. This over all attitude towards his Duchess expresses his attitude toward all women, possesive and degrading.

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Lacayah
10/4/2012 03:29:52 am

•How does Browning's "My Last Duchess" reveal the Duke of Ferrara's attitude toward women?

In the poem his attitude towards women is evident through out the piece. He has an attitude is that all women should be honered to be with him and the one that he choses for a wife should be beyond greatful and become his personal "object" that could be disposed of if needed. His duchess didn't behave like that. He says "'twas not / Her husband's presence only, called that spot / of joy into the Duchess' cheek." and that even when the painter was painting the picture he was smiling at her. This made him jealous. Later, he says "She thanked me -- good! but thanked / Somehow -- I know not how -- as if she ranked / My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name / With anybody's gift. This shows that she should have been honered to marry him and that she should have put him above all other men. These things upset him. He could have said something about it to her; however, he says that "E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose / Never to stoop. So he had her killed. And moved on easily. "Even in the title he says "My Last Duchess" implying that there will be more and saying it without any affection what so ever.

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Jacob Jones
10/4/2012 05:56:36 pm

I agree that it says that women should be honored to be with him, and that he thinks of women as objects. You also have good examples.

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Jacob Jones
10/4/2012 05:53:30 pm

• How does Browning's "My Last Duchess" reveal the Duke of Ferrara's attitude toward women?
Browning reveals the Duke of Ferrara attitude towards women by the tone that he uses when he talks about his wife. The Duke of Ferrara, which is the speaker, thinks of women as objects or as possessions. He thinks of his duchess as just a possession that he can control. His attitude also shows that he has no respect for women, if he thinks of them as just one of his meaningless possessions. In the first line of the poem it says, “That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall.” That line of the poem shows that he knows that he will never be caught for what he has committed; he gave a command to have his wife killed. In addition, it shows that he wants to remember her and he might want to show off.

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akhriesa
8/11/2015 03:54:34 am

what does the line 11 to 15 indicate
brief summary about that

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