Revising My Last Duchess

Revision of the poetry anothology students have covered in lessons is vital for the current GCSE specifications. As these new exams are closed book, students now cannot use copies of the text, and so, they will have to know the poetry they will be writing about very well.  Revising key quotations and references from each poem is important, as is revising the methods used within them and practising analysis of each of them.

Below is an visual map: students can use it to help them revise the poem My Last Duchess.

This type of activity is particularly useful to support students in accessing abstract meanings created in language, as well as making the identification and analysis of structure more accessible.

The most important thing to remember about this poem is that it is a dramatic monologue: the Duke’s first person narrative voice is the only one we hear throughout the poem. This is an incredibly important element of form, through which Browning illustrates the controlling nature of this character. It also creates an unreliable narrator: we cannot trust that what the Duke tells us is the truth; it could be his point of view; it could be a version of events he has created to suit his own agenda.

As you look at the smaller details of poem, you should keep this always in mind as use it to help you develop your analysis of meanings.

  • What do each of the images make you think, feel and imagine?
  • How do each of the images relate to the key quotations given next to them?
  • What linguistic methods (language) are used within each quotation?
  • What structural methods can you identfy?
  • What meanings are created by the writer’s methods?