Students read and analyze lines 43–56 of “My Last Duchess” (from “Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt, / Whene’er I passed her” to “Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!”), in which the Duke explains why the Duchess is no longer with him and suggests that he will soon take the Count’s daughter as his new wife. Students analyze how Browning develops central ideas such as power and status, jealousy, voice, and madness. Student learning is assessed via a Quick Write at the end of the lesson: How does Browning’s choice of speaker impact the development of central ideas in the poem? Lesson 5 in Google Docs format
1. Review Vocabulary
Add the following vocabulary words and definitions to your journal:
- munificence (n.)
- ample (adj.)
- warrant (n.)
- just (adj.)
- pretence (n.)
- dowry (n.)
- object (n.)
2. Listen / Read Along
Listen to a reading of “My Last Duchess,” lines 43–56 (from “Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt, / Whene’er I passed her” to “Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!”). Pay attention to how the Duke reports what happened to the Duchess.
3. Answer questions
Answers can be simple phrases, you do not need to use full sentences — I’m primarily assessing your comprehension of the text.
What does the rhetorical question in lines 44–45 suggest about the Duke?
To what does the phrase “This grew” (line 45) refer?
What might the Duke mean when he states, “I gave commands; / Then all smiles stopped together” in lines 45–46?
How does the repetition of the phrase “as if alive” in lines 2 and 47 affect the meaning of the poem?
What action happens in lines 47–48, after the Duke finishes talking about the Duchess and her picture?
What are the Duke and the listener discussing in lines 49–53?
What is the connection between the Count’s “known munificence” and a “dowry” in lines 49–51 (“The Count your master’s known munificence” to “no just pretence / Of mine for dowry will be disallowed”)?
- What does the word object mean in line 53?
- What other meaning does the word object have?
- What is the impact of Browning’s choice to use the word object in this line?
How do the final three lines of the poem contribute to the development of the Duke’s character?
Review your annotations for lines 43–56
- Share the central ideas and supporting evidence you have identified in these lines
4. Short essay response (quick write)
- Lesson 5. How does Browning’s choice of speaker impact the development of central ideas in the poem?
Look at your notes or the text itself to find evidence. Include this lesson’s vocabulary wherever possible to develop the topic through the use of well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient evidence. Use your Short Response Rubric and Checklist to guide your written responses. Share your responses ( firstname.lastname@example.org )!
- Why is the bronze statue described in lines 54–56 important to the Duke?
- Prepare for the End-of-Unit Assessment by reviewing and expanding your annotations about how Browning introduces and develops the poem’s narrator (and main character), the Duke.
- Study your vocabulary!