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5. The Duchess and the Interlocutor
About this Lecture
In this module, we turn from the Duke to the (now deceased) Duchess, a girl who - from the Duke's own words - appears to be person of almost child-like innocence. The interloctur, for his part, seems to listen to the Duke's speech with increasing horror, culminating in the Duke's sudden changing of the subject just at the moment he appears to admit to having his wife murdered ("Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet | The company below")
In this course, Mr Clive Wilmer (University of Cambridge) provides an in-depth analysis of Robert Browning's 'My Last Duchess'. The course begins by introducing Browning himself and the dramatic monologue form, before asking us to consider the form of the poem (rhyming couplets) and giving a bit of background about the true story that the poem was based on. After that, the poem is read out, and we pose two questions that will form the basis of our analysis; What is impression of the Duke? And what is our impression of the (now deceased) Duchess? These questions are tackled in the fourth and fifth modules, respectively. In the final module, we examine the use of history in this poem; specifically, what does Browning gain by setting the monologue in Renaissance Italy?
Clive Wilmer is one of the English team at Sidney Sussex, Cambridge. He teaches the period 1830 to the present day and Practical Criticism. His special interests reside in the areas of Victorian and Modernist poetry, as well as in Victorian aesthetics and social criticism.
He is the author of seven books of poetry, the latest of which is his New and Collected Poems (Carcanet Press, 2012). The editor of Penguin selections of John Ruskin and William Morris, he has written and lectured extensively on Ruskin, Morris and Ezra Pound; he is also the current Master of Ruskin's charity, the Guild of St George. He has published a book of interviews with contemporary poets, Poets Talking (Carcanet, 1994), and Cambridge Observed (Colt Books, 1998), an anthology of writings about Cambridge over the centuries. In 2005 he was awarded the medal Pro Cultura Hungarica by the Hungarian Ministry of Culture in recognition of his many translations of Hungarian poetry. He is currently editing the posthumous Selected Poems of Thom Gunn for Faber and Faber.
Cite this Lecture
Wilmer, C. (2018, August 15). Robert Browning: My Last Duchess - The Duchess and the Interlocutor [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/robert-browning-my-last-duchess/the-duchess-and-the-interlocutor
Wilmer, Clive. "Robert Browning: My Last Duchess – The Duchess and the Interlocutor." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018, https://massolit.io/courses/robert-browning-my-last-duchess/the-duchess-and-the-interlocutor