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Evaluate the Effectiveness of Presentation of Themes in 'My Last Duchess'

In the worksheet, students will be tested on their evaluation of themes in 'My Last Duchess'. Students will be able to practise why certain words are used and, the effect of these words on the theme and tone of the poem.

'Evaluate the Effectiveness of Presentation of Themes 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

Want to revise your theme evaluation skills in 'My Last Duchess'

 

(Hint, yes you do! Double hint, you've come to the right place to do this!)

 

 

Thought bubble

 

In this activity, you'll be able to practise your evaluating skills concerning key themes in 'My Last Duchess'. This activity should allow you to practise some key skills in detecting how the writer develops key themes and presents them effectively. This is a mixed activity some of your answers will need to be manually marked!

 

 

An evaluation template:

 

Identifying the theme I.e. In 'My Last Duchess' Browning presents the theme of arrogance

Example I.e. At the end of the poem, Browning uses the metaphor of "Neptune" who is "taming a sea-horse" to present the way the Duke sees himself; as a mythic god who is able to tame his Duchesses, and those around him, to suit his needs.

Effect I.e. Browning also uses a semantic field of arrogant language: words such as '"disgust", "stoops" and "trifling" are a few words which emphasise how the Duke views himself as above others. 

Linking the theme to the poem as a whole: I.e. The theme of arrogance links well to ideas of control and murder. The Duke's arrogance stems from his belief that he can control and manipulate those around him because of his power and title.

 

 

Don't worry about making your evaluations super complex and don't get too intimidated by the example up there. It's more sophisticated so that you have a super good example to look up to and work towards!

 

Hopefully (fingers crossed) this makes evaluating themes easier to understand. If it's still tricky, don't worry because the activity will be filled with helpful hints and explanations that you can jot down as you do it. 

 

Remember, take your time, it's not a race!

"The faint half-flush that dies along her throat"

 

 

Evaluate the themes of death and sexuality in this quote.

 

Fill in the blanks with the correct words from below. Don't use any quotation marks when filling the blanks.

faint

flush

murder

dies

impressed

love

cheating

Now, evaluate the theme of control in the poem by filling in the blanks, using the words below:

 

control

love

view

painting

extends

"A heart-- how shall I say?-- too soon made glad"

 

Which of the two devices below are present.

Hyperbole

Rhetorical question

Theme of love

Simile

Name one theme/motif in the poem which can only be associated with the Duke:

Sexuality

Arrogance

Love

Metaphor

"Just this or that in you disgusts me"

 

The Duke is speaking here, about the Duchess. How might this quote present the theme of arrogance?

 

Pick one number.

 

1. The quote suggests that the Duke is disgusted by everyone around him.

2. The quote suggests that the Duchess' actions 'disgusts' the Duke, but he still loves her.

3. The noun "disgusts" paired with the personal pronoun "me" really emphasises the Duke's arrogance. It's clear that he prioritises himself and views the Duchess, specifically, as below him, it's a personal attack against her. The strongly negative connotations of the word "disgusts" also suggests the depth of hatred that the Duke had for the Duchess.

"That's my last Duchess painted on the wall"

 

 

Tick two ways that this quote expresses the theme of art.

Art is presented as a symbol of freedom for the Duchess

Art seems to symbolically trap the Duchess in the Duke's possession forever

Art is the only way the Duke can control and possess the Duchess, She has transferred into an inanimate painting, which is how he seems to prefer her

Art is a metaphor for the Duke's love of the Duchess

"I choose never to stoop"

 

Evaluate the theme of arrogance in this quote.

 

There are two marks for two sentences.

 

Hint: think about these in your answer-

What can be inferred about the word 'never'?

What can be inferred about the word 'stoop'?

"She liked whate'er she looked on and her looks went everywhere"

 

Evaluate the theme of jealousy in this quote.

 

Think about;

 

The way the Duchess is presented

The significance of the word "everywhere"

What does this suggest about the way the Duke views the Duchess, sexually?

 

There are two marks for two sentences.

Pick one theme which remains constant/unchanging throughout the poem

 

1. Control 

2. Murder

3. Love

 

You get one mark for identifying the correct theme.

Last question!

 

Pick one other theme which links to the theme of arrogance.

 

 Give one reason which explains why solitude, and the theme you picked, link.

 

1. jealousy

2. art

3. sex

 

There are two marks for two sentences.

  • Question 1

"The faint half-flush that dies along her throat"

 

 

Evaluate the themes of death and sexuality in this quote.

 

Fill in the blanks with the correct words from below. Don't use any quotation marks when filling the blanks.

faint

flush

murder

dies

impressed

love

cheating

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The linking of death and sex in the quote is quite a subtle thing. But it really pinpoints where the Duke's head is at. It seems as if he is still jealous of the Duchess and the things that make her blush. Remember, the fact that the Duke is still super obsessed with the Duchess speaks volumes. Even after he's killed her, he's still preoccupied with the idea of her blushing, so much so, that he seems to be jealous of her painting.
  • Question 2

Now, evaluate the theme of control in the poem by filling in the blanks, using the words below:

 

control

love

view

painting

extends

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Have a read of the summary of the blanks you've filled and see if you agree with the points made- if so, jot them down. If not, form your own opinion supported with quotes.
  • Question 3

"A heart-- how shall I say?-- too soon made glad"

 

Which of the two devices below are present.

CORRECT ANSWER
Hyperbole
Rhetorical question
EDDIE SAYS
The two devices present are hyperbole (the exaggerated adverb "too" which suggests that the Duke believed the Duchess was excessively happy for his taste) and rhetorical question (conveying the Duke as purposefully manipulative through his use of rhetoric).
  • Question 4

Name one theme/motif in the poem which can only be associated with the Duke:

Sexuality

Arrogance

Love

Metaphor

CORRECT ANSWER
Arrogance
EDDIE SAYS
The one theme that relates, solely, to the Duke is the theme of arrogance.
  • Question 5

"Just this or that in you disgusts me"

 

The Duke is speaking here, about the Duchess. How might this quote present the theme of arrogance?

 

Pick one number.

 

1. The quote suggests that the Duke is disgusted by everyone around him.

2. The quote suggests that the Duchess' actions 'disgusts' the Duke, but he still loves her.

3. The noun "disgusts" paired with the personal pronoun "me" really emphasises the Duke's arrogance. It's clear that he prioritises himself and views the Duchess, specifically, as below him, it's a personal attack against her. The strongly negative connotations of the word "disgusts" also suggests the depth of hatred that the Duke had for the Duchess.

CORRECT ANSWER
3
EDDIE SAYS
This was a tricky question, but hopefully it's a valuable one, which got you thinking a little bit about the way that certain quotations represent different ideas/attitudes/themes. This exercise should have got you thinking about the way certain language features shape the themes in the poem. The Duke's arrogance, in the quote, is emphasised by the use of personal pronouns. The use of these pronouns emphasise the Duke's singular disgust of the Duchess, specifically. In this quote, the Duke is actually talking directly to the Duchess, too. So, there's a lot more depth of feeling. The harshness of the word "disgusts" is shocking and jolting; a contrast from the calculated, manipulative and fake-humble language that the Duke uses when he addresses the subject (marriage broker). We get a more honest perception of the Duke when we see him imagining himself talking directly to the Duchess.
  • Question 6

"That's my last Duchess painted on the wall"

 

 

Tick two ways that this quote expresses the theme of art.

CORRECT ANSWER
Art seems to symbolically trap the Duchess in the Duke's possession forever
Art is the only way the Duke can control and possess the Duchess, She has transferred into an inanimate painting, which is how he seems to prefer her
EDDIE SAYS
The two middle options are correct! Art seems to be the Duke's way of preserving his sense of control over the Duchess. He has this painting forever, which symbolically represents his control and possessiveness. Moreover, the fact that the Duke seems to prefer the Duchess through this piece of art, suggests that he always saw her as a piece of decoration, which he could show off whenever he wanted.
  • Question 7

"I choose never to stoop"

 

Evaluate the theme of arrogance in this quote.

 

There are two marks for two sentences.

 

Hint: think about these in your answer-

What can be inferred about the word 'never'?

What can be inferred about the word 'stoop'?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Every time you write an evaluation, try and make sure that you analyse the language in the quote- this will get you the highest marks. Be creative with it! Arrogance is quite an important theme in the poem, and it's emphasised in the language used. "Never" suggests that the Duke is stubborn and "stoop" suggests that he believes he is above the Duchess. He clearly doesn't view her as his equal (and this idea runs throughout the entire poem!).
  • Question 8

"She liked whate'er she looked on and her looks went everywhere"

 

Evaluate the theme of jealousy in this quote.

 

Think about;

 

The way the Duchess is presented

The significance of the word "everywhere"

What does this suggest about the way the Duke views the Duchess, sexually?

 

There are two marks for two sentences.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The quote emphasises the Duke's jealous nature through the use of the word "everywhere". The Duke is implying that the Duchess was promiscuous (sexually liberated) and the word "everywhere" might not just be about the Duchess looking at other people!
  • Question 9

Pick one theme which remains constant/unchanging throughout the poem

 

1. Control 

2. Murder

3. Love

 

You get one mark for identifying the correct theme.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Control doesn't change in the poem. From the beginning, the Duke exercises control over the painting of the Duchess. And, in the end, the metaphor of Neptune neatly ties the poem together by stressing that the Duke sees himself as Neptune controlling the sea-horse.
  • Question 10

Last question!

 

Pick one other theme which links to the theme of arrogance.

 

 Give one reason which explains why solitude, and the theme you picked, link.

 

1. jealousy

2. art

3. sex

 

There are two marks for two sentences.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Think about which themes connect and bounce of each other- why do these themes connect and how is this important to the poem as a whole? So, jealousy links to arrogance (which also links to control and possessiveness) because that's how Browning has constructed the Duke's personality. He believes he controls and owns the Duchess!
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