Analysis Essay on How Metaphor Is Used to Depict Power in Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess"

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  621 Words
Date:  2022-12-16


Metaphor is a way to communicate complex ideas through comparisons. Robert Browning's poem "My Last Duchess" cleverly uses metaphors to convey his control over his wife. The poem tells the story of a powerful Duke who paints his wife's portrait. An emissary from her family reveals the Duke's possessive and controlling nature.

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Extended Metaphor: The Duke as a “Nine-Hundred-Years-Old” Mountain

The poem begins with an extended metaphor in which the Duke compares himself to a "nine-hundred-years-old" mountain. This metaphor represents the Duke's power and control. He is likened to an immovable, seemingly endless object. This metaphor establishes the Duke's power and sets the tone for the rest of the poem.

Metaphor of the Painting: Depicting the Wife as Property

The Duke continues to use metaphor to emphasize his power when he speaks of the painting of his late wife. He says “Will’t please you sit and look at her?” and “I gave commands; then all smiles stopped together.” Through these lines, the Duke is metaphorically depicting his wife as a piece of property that can be commanded and controlled. This metaphor not only demonstrates the Duke’s control, but also implies that he was not satisfied with his wife’s behavior and took drastic action to control her.

Metaphor of Possessiveness: Wife's Impressions and Loyalty

The Duke also uses metaphor to convey his possessiveness when he says “she had/A heart—how shall I say?—too soon made glad,/Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er/She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.” In this metaphor, the Duke is implying that his wife was too easily impressed by the attention of other men and that she was not exclusive to him. This metaphor emphasizes the Duke’s possessiveness and jealousy and conveys the idea that he was not satisfied with his wife’s loyalty.

Finally, the Duke’s metaphor “I gave commands; then all smiles stopped together” implies that he had the power to take away his wife’s happiness and joy. This metaphor is a powerful demonstration of the Duke’s power and control over his late wife, and conveys the idea that he would not accept anything less than absolute obedience.


Robert Browning's poem "My Last Duchess" is a wonderful example of how metaphors can help communicate complex ideas. Through a variety metaphors, the Duke conveys his possessiveness and control. These metaphors effectively convey Browning's message and are a testament to Browning’s poetry talent.

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Analysis Essay on How Metaphor Is Used to Depict Power in Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess". (2022, Dec 16). Retrieved from

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