Victorian Sexism Reviled within Browning’s “My Last Duchess”


I love poems, and think many of my readers will relate to this. There is a lot to love about classic poetry, and they overwhelmingly rich with content. Below is my personal take on “My Last Duchess” and the deep sexism that is revealed throughout it. I hope you like!

“Nineteenth-century bourgeois masculinity was characterized by a rigid program of male self-discipline and control necessary for conformity to the hegemonic parameters of patriarchy (151),” argues Tyler Efird, whose study of sexism within Victorian literature examines the works of poet Robert Browning and his dramatic monologues that subjugate women. Browning created male-dominating speakers in his poetry who controlled female characters due to a patriarchal system that controlled Victorian society. Wealthy noblemen were at the center of power during this period and the patriarch led great influence on gender issues. “Significantly, this program required the strict regulation of male sexual desire, thereby “insuring,” according to Victorian patriarchal ideology, the application of male energy towards other purposes – most often those required of work and intellect”(l 51) states Efird believing this is the root of violence directed to females by males in Victorian Literature.

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