Want to revise your language evaluation skills in 'My Last Duchess'
Hopefully, you know 'My Last Duchess' well enough by now to be able to evaluate Browning's choices of language in the poem. Now remember, evaluating language is actually quite simple if you break it down into these two points:
What attitudes are expressed by the poet, through this language choice?
What effect does this word have on you, the reader?
When we break up our language evaluation into these two points, it is easier to get into the nitty gritty of word choice. It also helps to evaluate language by putting ourselves into the speaker of the poem's shoes. Why does the poet use specific words and what is the effect of these words?
Here's an example of language evaluation to get you going.
Near the beginning of the poem, Browning uses the personal pronoun '"my" in "that's my last Duchess painted on the wall". The fact that the poem begins with a personal pronoun and title of the Duchess suggests that the Duke is possessive of the Duchess. Of course, as the poem evolves, this possessiveness becomes heightened as we understand that the Duke's controlling nature is probably what caused the Duchess to be murdered. This presentation of the impact of control and possessiveness also hints that the Duke's control over the Duchess has not lessened, he still controls her through the painting he has of her on the wall. This suggests that Browning is conveying the Duke as possessive whilst highlighting his sinister, cruel and controlling nature.
You should always refer to your own text when working through these examples. These quotations are for reference only.