My Last Duchess Paranoia

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“My Last Duchess” and Paranoia One could argue that there are many themes found in Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess.” Take, for instance, the duke’s pride in his possessions; this could be implied as a symptom of greed. Another example of a theme present in the work is the feeling the duke has towards the duchess’s admirers: jealousy. Both arguments are valid for the main theme present in this work. I, however, think that the main theme present in “My Last Duchess” is paranoia. The first passage that hints at paranoia is found in the duke’s description of Frà Pandolf’s painting of the titular duchess. The duke, in conversation to the envoy, states, “…’twas not, / Her husband’s presence only, called that spot, / Of joy into the Duchess’…show more content…
The duke states that there were “…. cherries some officious fool/ Broke in the orchard for her” (27-28). Because of the sexual connotation of cherries, this anecdote could hint that there was an unsavory relationship between the “fool” in question and the duchess. However, if this line is read in the poem’s entire context, the duke’s questionable reliability debunks the stories as plausible evidence of unfaithfulness; in fact, this anecdotal evidence is further proof that the duke is excessively paranoid. For instance, the duke expects the envoy to believe that the duchess looked towards the setting sun, cherries, other men, and, most ludicrously, a white mule the same way she looked at her husband. Yes, the duchess may have enjoyed watching the sunset and eating cherries. The duchess may have also appreciated the men who brought her the cherries and the mule used for riding. But, what is most striking is, yet again, the duke’s failure to see the circumstances of her glance. The sunset, cherries, and mule are just things that made the duchess happy. The only credible part left in the duke’s argument is that the duchess may have eyed other men in a sensual way, but, with the other examples being so illogical, it is hard to believe that the duchess eyed these other men in a lustful
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