Who Is The Listener In My Last Duchess

Question : What is a dramatic monologue? Which of the two, in your opinion, is the stronger dramatic monologue in Tennyson’s “Ulysses” or Browning’s “My Last Duchess”? Answer : Traditionally dramatic monologue is a lyrical poem in the form of speech spoken by a single man. It is dramatic because it begins abruptly and in the development of its thought it takes several sudden turns which impart dramatic dimension to the poem. In a dramatic monologue the single speaker reveals his thoughts in the presence of a single silent listener or some silent listeners.

The speaker is not necessarily the poet himself though the speaker often gives out the poet’s belief and philosophy. The speaker’s revelation, in fact, leads the readers to probe deep into the psycho-analytical or soul-dissecting. Therefore, a dramatic monologue is a kind of poem which comprises of lyrical strains, abrupt beginning, single speaker, silent listener or listeners, psychological analysis, clues to suggest the presence of the silent listeners and what they say or do.

Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess” and “Andrea del Sarto”, Tennyson’s “Ulysses” and “Tithonus” are famous dramatic monologues. A dramatic monologue usually begins abruptly somewhere at the middle of the event. He beginning of Ulysses is not so sudden and surprising. The opening lines seem to have a tone of introduction : “It little profits that an idle king… ” It does not produce a surprising dramatic effect which is traditional for dramatic monologues. On the contrary, “My Last Duchess” begins with dramatic suddenness : That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall.

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” The readers understand that the event has begun earlier. But the poem begins somewhere in the middle of the speech giving a dramatic twist. A single person, Ulysses, speaks throughout the poem. It is understood that some of his old comrades are present around him. Ulysses encourages them in undertaking a new adventure. First, he tells them why he does not want to stay at home. Then, he asks them to start the journey. At times, he addresses them as “My friends” and “Come my friends”. He tells them, “you nd I are old. ” These are the clues which lead us to believe that other mariners are present but they do not speak. Telemachus’ presence is also felt. Tennyson here follows the tradition of allowing one person to speak and keeping others silent. In “My Last Duchess” we see the same thing. As the poem progresses, it becomes clear that only a single person speaks. The speaker is the Duke of Ferrara who is talking about his dead Duchess’ portrait painted by Fra Pandolf. At several points of the poem it becomes evident that there is a listener who remains silent.

What Is The Dramatic Monologue

For example, when the duke says “Will’t please you sit and look at her? ” or “Will’t you please rise? ” we understand that someone is present around him. Later in the poem, we come to know that he is an emissary for the second marriage of the Duke. Throughout the poem he does not talk. But his reactions are revealed through the Duke’s speech. For example, the clue to understand the surprise in the emissary’s face has been revealed by the Duke himself : “so not the first/ Are you to turn and ask thus. ” We know he does not ask anything but there has been a question in his countenance.

Tennyson reveals his heart’s desire in “Ulysses”. This is another aspect of dramatic monologue. He says he does not enjoy peaceful life at home, and so, he wants to set out for new adventures. His inner thoughts have been revealed. However, the revelation is very simple and plain. The speaker here is more concerned with external things around him rather than psychological crises which are the essence of a successful dramatic monologue. In this aspect “My Last Duchess” also the same as “Ulysses”. Here the Duke while talking about the Duchess reveals his own mind.

We understand that he is a possessive husband, a cruel person, a proud aristocrat, a greedy bridegroom but a connoisseur of artworks. He also reveals that the Duchess was an innocent, easy-going lady. These analyses of Duke’s temperament are the essence of this dramatic look. It may now concluded that both the poems are fine examples of dramatic monologue though “Ulysses”’s beginning is not so startling and it lacks psychological probing. So, from my point of view, “My Last Duchess” is more strong dramatic monologue than “Ulysses”.

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Who Is The Listener In My Last Duchess. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/paper-on-comparison-between-my-last-duchess-ulysses-regarding-dramatic-monologue-632/

Who Is The Listener In My Last Duchess
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