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Identify and Explain Key Quotes in 'My Last Duchess'

In this worksheet, students will be able to revise key quotes in 'My Last Duchess'.

'Identify and Explain Key Quotes in 'My Last Duchess'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA, Pearson Edexcel

Curriculum topic:   Poetry, Poetry Anthology Collections

Curriculum subtopic:   Power and Conflict: 'My Last Duchess', Relationships: 'My Last Duchess'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Refer to the poem 'My Last Duchess' in your anthology.

 

Here's a quick recap of the poem: The poem is a dramatic monologue, set in the Renaissance period, in which a wealthy man of high nobility- the Duke of Ferrara-shows a marriage broker a painting of his late wife- his "last Duchess". The Duke defames his ex-wife, portraying her as someone who is easily impressed and seems to smile too much! Long story short, the Duke is awful, controlling and domineering- it's quite clear that as the poem unveils, the Duke is revealed to have killed his wife.

 

Throughout the entire poem, the Duke emphasises how powerful he is. However, to the reader, his delusion and thirst for authority becomes more and more apparent. 

 

 

Thought bubble

 

 

This activity should help you revise some key quotes and help deepen your understanding of the poem. In the following questions, you'll be given a quote from the poem, and you'll need to identify the poet's meaning behind the quote.

 

Old Fashioned Camera

 

It may be helpful to write the quotes down as you do this exercise so you can try and remember them for the future!

"That's my last Duchess painted on the wall looking as if she were alive."

 

What does the very first quote imply about the Duke's possessiveness?

 

The Duke is very possessive over his Duchess, due to the possessive pronoun 'my'

The Duke is not very possessive over the painting.

The Duke is only possessive over the painting shown by the pronoun 'my'

"That pictured countenance, the depth and passion of its earnest glance..."

 

Definition: countenance means face/expression.

 

What can you infer about the Duke's paranoia from this quote?

 

Fill in the blanks. Choose two correct answers out of the options below.

 

controlling

funny

adjective

adverb

serious

 

The Duke is very possessive over his Duchess, due to the possessive pronoun 'my'

The Duke is not very possessive over the painting.

The Duke is only possessive over the painting shown by the pronoun 'my'

"Too soon made glad, too easily impressed"

 

 

Tick one box which correctly identifies a technique used in this quote.

 

The quote is a metaphor

The quote uses the repetition of the adverb "too"

The quote uses positive adjectives

"Who'd stoop to blame this sort of trifling?..."

 

Tick the two boxes which correctly identify the two devices used.

The quote is a metaphor

The quote uses the repetition of the adverb "too"

The quote uses positive adjectives

"The dropping of the daylight in the West"

 

 

Write the one correct number, from the options below, which best explains the quote.

 

1. The verb "dropping" shows that the Duchess had a lot of freedom.

2. We can infer from the noun "daylight" that the Duchess hated the dark.

3. The alliteration of the harsh 'D' sounds ("dropping", "daylight"), causes a harsh tone, which reinforces the Duke's hatred and jealousy.

"Just this or that in you disgusts me; here you miss or there you exceed the mark..."

 

Pick three out of the options below to fill the blanks:

 

power

grandness

verb

adverb

past

present

Pick one number from the options below which show that the Duke's extreme jealousy and paranoia led to the Duchess' death.

 

1. "Will't you please rise"

2. "I gave commands; the all smiles stopped together."

3. "If she let herself be lessoned so..."

 

"Such stuff was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough for calling up that spot of joy..."

 

 

What is one thing you notice about this quote? Pick from the options below.

 

The Duke disapproves of the Duchess feeling any joy

The Duke loves that the Duchess is happy

The Duke is happy and feeling joy

"Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed at starting is my object..."

 

Tick one correct interpretation of language in this quote.

 

The possessive pronoun "my", as well as the noun "object" leads the reader to believe that the Duke will never change, and will control his next Duchess as much as he did that last one

The noun "object" shows that the Duke respects women

The verb "starting" shows that the Duke will start fresh and change the way he treats women/his new wife

Last one!

 

"Notice Neptune though, taming a sea horse..."

 

 

Pick two words which link to the overall motif of control

 

mighty

though

Neptune

forms 

sea-horse

taming

notice

The possessive pronoun "my", as well as the noun "object" leads the reader to believe that the Duke will never change, and will control his next Duchess as much as he did that last one

The noun "object" shows that the Duke respects women

The verb "starting" shows that the Duke will start fresh and change the way he treats women/his new wife

  • Question 1

"That's my last Duchess painted on the wall looking as if she were alive."

 

What does the very first quote imply about the Duke's possessiveness?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The Duke is very possessive over his Duchess, due to the possessive pronoun 'my'
EDDIE SAYS
The key word in this quote is the possessive pronoun "my". The Duke refers to his ex-wife as "my last Duchess"- this makes it seem like he owned her- and still does, even after her death. In the eyes of the Duke, the Duchess was and still is his property. As you continue to read the poem, you will probably find a lot of evidence that showcases how possessive and controlling the Duke is. The fact that his possessiveness extends towards her painting (he indicates in line 10 that only he can draw the curtains back and reveal his Duchess to onlookers).
  • Question 2

"That pictured countenance, the depth and passion of its earnest glance..."

 

Definition: countenance means face/expression.

 

What can you infer about the Duke's paranoia from this quote?

 

Fill in the blanks. Choose two correct answers out of the options below.

 

controlling

funny

adjective

adverb

serious

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Even after the Duchess' death, the Duke is describing the way she "glance(s)" at others, using the nouns "depth" and "passion", and the adjective "earnest". This all seems to hint at the Duke's powerful and controlling personality- he is so controlling that even her painting seems to come to life under his jealousy. But it also reinforces the Duke's own weaknesses, paranoia and delusional nature.
  • Question 3

"Too soon made glad, too easily impressed"

 

 

Tick one box which correctly identifies a technique used in this quote.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The quote uses the repetition of the adverb "too"
EDDIE SAYS
Think about why the Duke repeats the adverb "too". It really emphasises the Duke's opinion of the Duchess and, as the poem progresses, we gradually begin to realise that the flawed personality in the poem isn't the Duchess, but the Duke. We realise that the language that the speaker- the Duke- uses to describe the late Duchess emphasises his own possessive jealousy. In this case, the repetition of "too" turns the seemingly positive qualities of being "glad" and "easily impressed" into something which the Duchess does to excess. He turns her positives into flaws, through hyperbolic (exaggerated) language.
  • Question 4

"Who'd stoop to blame this sort of trifling?..."

 

Tick the two boxes which correctly identify the two devices used.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
A little bit complicated, so well done if you had a go and, even better, if you got the correct answer. If not, don't worry! The reason we can say the quote is ironic is because of the context of the poem- despite the duke making it clear that he wouldn't "stoop" to such a low level, the entire poem is about his complaints against his dead wife. He claims that he'd never stoop to his wife's level. BUT he's completely obsessed with her- monitoring her, even after her death, through a painting of her. Creepy... As we read further on into the poem, a theory that the Duke murdered the Duchess becomes increasingly apparent- making the quote ironic. He won't stoop to talk to her but is so overcome and insecure over his loss of control that he kills her. The rhetorical question that the Duke uses, here, (remember, he is the speaker of the poem) reminds us that he is talking to someone else. He adopts a lighthearted tone from time to time, especially through his rhetorical questions. These questions almost add to his dangerous personality because it's quite clear that he's able to mask his feelings of jealousy and anger by his lighthearted tone. It makes the poem a lot more sinister.
  • Question 5

"The dropping of the daylight in the West"

 

 

Write the one correct number, from the options below, which best explains the quote.

 

1. The verb "dropping" shows that the Duchess had a lot of freedom.

2. We can infer from the noun "daylight" that the Duchess hated the dark.

3. The alliteration of the harsh 'D' sounds ("dropping", "daylight"), causes a harsh tone, which reinforces the Duke's hatred and jealousy.

CORRECT ANSWER
3
EDDIE SAYS
Answer number three is correct! Say the quote to yourself a few times- what do you notice about the sounds created. They are quite harsh and forceful- much like the Duke's personality. The sinister and lethal tone peeps out from time to time, reminding us that the Duke is a lunatic who's possessive, dangerous, arrogant and controlling. The quote is detailing the Duke's anger towards his easily impressed Duchess- he's basically annoyed because he claims that anything can make her smile: some cherries, a white mule (small horse) or the way the sun would set. Clearly, as much as we're witnessing the Duke's awful personality, we're also- as a contrast-witnessing the Duchess' genuine love of simple things. Perhaps the Duke is jealous because the Duchess displays qualities that he can never possess- his arrogance doesn't allow him to genuinely appreciate and love anything.
  • Question 6

"Just this or that in you disgusts me; here you miss or there you exceed the mark..."

 

Pick three out of the options below to fill the blanks:

 

power

grandness

verb

adverb

past

present

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
In this quote, the Duke is letting the marriage-broker know what he would have said to the Duchess. However, he also lets the reader know, several times, that he would never "stoop" to her level. The Duke is desperate to be the bigger man, however as the poem goes on, we see him lose more and more of his cool. He stoops to the lowest level by killing his wife. What's interesting about this quote is how it's in the present tense (direct speech as well). It seems that the Duke's anger over the Duchess extends to the present, even after her death.
  • Question 7

Pick one number from the options below which show that the Duke's extreme jealousy and paranoia led to the Duchess' death.

 

1. "Will't you please rise"

2. "I gave commands; the all smiles stopped together."

3. "If she let herself be lessoned so..."

 

CORRECT ANSWER
2
EDDIE SAYS
This quote is the climax of the poem, it's the point at which we can assume the Duke murdered the Duchess. The Duke craftily states that the Duchess' "smiles stopped together", which implies that she was killed. The Duke claimed, "I gave commands". The pronoun "I" gives the reader a large clue to the Duke's involvement in stopping the Duchess' smiles. The words 'I killed her' don't really need to be said. It seems that the Duke's motive behind the murder is to stop the Duchess from smiling at other men. Look at the use of the semi-colon in the quote, there's an abrupt tone to the quote, suggesting the Duke feels no remorse for what he did. It's quick, simple and effortless to kill the Duchess.
  • Question 8

"Such stuff was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough for calling up that spot of joy..."

 

 

What is one thing you notice about this quote? Pick from the options below.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The Duke disapproves of the Duchess feeling any joy
EDDIE SAYS
Not only does the Duke disapprove of the Duchess' "spot of joy", meaning her blushes from happiness, he also believes that joy can be controlled. He states that she was "calling up" her joy, implying that she was happy just to spite him.
  • Question 9

"Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed at starting is my object..."

 

Tick one correct interpretation of language in this quote.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The possessive pronoun "my", as well as the noun "object" leads the reader to believe that the Duke will never change, and will control his next Duchess as much as he did that last one
EDDIE SAYS
This quote comes near the end of the poem, and it proves to us that the Duke will never change. The Duke pretends that he's really into his new potential wife, as he uses the flowery adjective "fair", which means beautiful, to describe her. However, paired with the words "my object" to describe her- we can see the Duke's spots haven't really changed. He views women as objects to be controlled and dominated. Furthermore, have a look at the line before this quote (line 51). The Duke mentions "dowry" from his future bride's father (a dowry was money that a bride's family would give to the groom, almost as if the bride was being sold by her family to her new husband: it's illegal nowadays because it's a sexist, outdated custom). Clearly, he's in it for the money and doesn't really care about his new wife.
  • Question 10

Last one!

 

"Notice Neptune though, taming a sea horse..."

 

 

Pick two words which link to the overall motif of control

 

mighty

though

Neptune

forms 

sea-horse

taming

notice

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
You've probably realised by now that control is a big theme in the poem! Linking as many quotes as you can to this theme is a great idea- you could even say there is a semantic field (words relating to a similar theme) of control, arrogance and possessiveness in the poem.
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