Home » “MY LAST DUCHESS” AND THE MINDSET OF THE MODERN POLITICS

“MY LAST DUCHESS” AND THE MINDSET OF THE MODERN POLITICS

by Kukes Post
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Written by the Victorian poet Robert Browning, “My Last Duchess” is an interesting piece of literature which not only does it represent the Victorian period in the British literature, but it also depicts, in my view, the mindset of the politics of that time, or perhaps the political role model of a new Secular world which was embodied primarily by the rising British Empire’s political elite.

Robert Browning employs a literary technique called ‘dramatic monologue’ to portray carefully the mind, the psychology, and the worldview of a politician who could have been typical at that time, and who, I think, is not far from a typical politician of today.

Even though apparently the story is referring to the Duke of Ferrara of the 16th century and his wife the Duchess Lucrezia de’ Medici, in the poem there is a duke who is talking to the emissary of a local count whose daughter has been offered to him for a possible marriage. While they’ve been talking about the particulars of this proposal case and they both are about to go downstairs to meet the delegation, the duke shows to this emissary the painting of his murdered wife – the last duchess.

The whole poem is the duke’s talk to this emissary and, as it is a dramatic monologue, we can learn only from the point of view of the speaker, i.e. the duke, about what’s going on, but it forces us to analyze the scene and use the brain to put together the pieces of information coming from one side only.

Perhaps as it must have been common for a European aristocrat or a member of the ruling elite of that time, the duke reveals the marvelous painting of his wife – “a wonder” as he calls it, which was covered by a curtain as he says, “since none puts by the curtain I have drawn for you, but I.”

In short, this duchess has been painted in this fresco by Fra Pandolf, a Catholic friar who might have been one of the few people to have talked to this royal lady as she lived in a hyper controlled royal environment.

The duchess is a regular woman, cheerful, appreciative, and polite, but she fails to recognize the favor which the duke – coming from a nine century royal family – has bestowed upon her. She is not thankful enough to him.

Similar to the modern politics or the British royals – coming from a comparable nine century monarchic family, the duke is extremely arrogant, obsessed with political control, lost touch with the real world, and cannot find words, even though he is eloquent, to express his indignation with his wife who does not worship him, who “ranked my gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name with anybody’s gift.”

The man is so arrogant that considers inappropriate to even express to her his expectations; therefore, he chooses “never to stoop.”

If I were to summarize the modern western politics, I would do so in two words: extreme arrogance – people obsessed with control and who think that they are keeping us alive; people who seek to replace God.

Sabri Lushi

July 2024

 

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