Robert Browning: Poems

sensuality in "My last Duchess" .

Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess"

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The poem alludes far more to the constrictions Victorian women faced, than to any type of sensuality. In fact, we can easily surmise that what was viewed as sensuality by the Duke, "heart—how shall I say?—too soon made glad, /Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er \She looked on, and her looks went everywhere," was really a lack of restraint. Something which would be considered a sign of impurity and later seems to be responsible for the Duchess' death.

The Duke was unhappy with his happy, young wife; he didn't like that she shared her smiles freely and bragged at his ability to change what he didn't like, "I gave commands; \Then all smiles stopped together." The mores of Victorian society gave a husband "ownership" of his wife, and to flout societies strict conventions was often seen as a moral flaw.


My Last Duchess