My Last Duchess

The Duke killed his wife, because of her infidelity. He immortalised her in a painting so that he could continue to control her:

  • ‘painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive’
  • ‘Half-flush that dies along her throat’
  • ‘I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together.’
  • ‘There she stands As If alive.’


It is ambiguous as to whether or not the son has died but there are many details to suggest that he has:

  • ‘poppies had already been placed on individual war graves’
  • ‘spasm of paper red’
  • ‘After you’d gone I… released a song bird’
  • ‘skirting the church yard walls’
  • ‘I traced the inscriptions on the war memorial’
  • I listened hoping to hear your playground voice’


The pilot should have sacrificed his life on a suicide mission but he returned home, because he loved his family:

  • ‘Her father embarked at sunrise’
  • ‘my mother never spoke again in his presence’
  • _‘till gradually we too learned to be silent’ _
  • ‘to live as though he had never returned’
  • ‘must have wondered which had been the better way to die’