The Last Duchess of a Narcissist


 The persona of the poem begins by stating ‘THAT’S is my duchess’. This attribute of having someone see what the poet needs you to do can be attributed to the narcissistic nature of the speaker. The phrase the portrait of the Duchess looked as if she were alive is also a statement of brag that encloses a question that would be answered by directing a question to the speaker of the poem.

 The speaker brags of the painter who did the work before him, he states the detail put by the artist in his work. It is quite common for a narcissist to shroud material possessions with importance. For example, if someone asks about their shoes they would describe the details and the levels went by them to have them or they would detail the quality of their possessions.


 A narcissist rarely lets the details of his possessions pass since they reflect the attributes of herself. The description of “there she stands...” is meant to let the person know that the portrait is a full portrait which is more expensive and has more detail than a face portrait. He tells the listener that the work is a wonder. The wonder is that the painting has many details and the narcissistic nature of the speaker wishes to expound on this. The relation of something to the image of the person owning it is a characteristic of narcissism (Huang). He later says in line 5 that he mentions “Fra Pandolf” by design in order to create more appeal to the audience.

 The speaker mentions that the picture attracts glances from strangers while they do not understand the depth of the picture. The narcissist usually hides the claims of his obsessions with misunderstanding. The quick conclusion of hiding behind being misunderstood is related in retrospect to the justification of his obsession. Like a person taking too much detail in their appearance will deduce his actions to be coming from a sense of external appeal, narcissus do not admit to doing something for the reason of their own self-gratification. The curtains that drape the painting are said to be pulled back by the speaker alone. This is a prime characteristic of narcissistic behavior.

 The pricing and valuation of something makes one to have privileges in the way they handle their possessions. The painting is reserved for the speaker by others for his own amusement rather than for the reasons of all. The taking of secret pleasures from things that are easily enjoyed by others can reflect tendencies of narcissism since the extra pleasure of enjoying normal things is derived from the high esteem (Mathieu). The question he wishes to receive from the viewers of the painting are actually hypothetical.

 They are not made by the viewers but they are made by the owner of the painting, this means that he anticipates the questions and inquisitions that come together with his beautiful pictures. The Duke creates a view of the question being asked and he thinks that people want to question his painting. The anticipation of questions usually reflects need of adoration.

 The curtains that cover the picture signifies the privacy of his possessions. The prying into his possessions is likely to lead to him getting angry according to the reservation of some objects to his viewing only. According to the questions which he says are commonly dished out by the viewers of the painting we are able to see that he is the only one fit to answer the questions. The knowledge of class and depth from his painting makes him the ultimate person to be consulted in matters of class (Huang). This creates a narcissistic feed of self-gratitude and self-reward from importance bestowed by a person on himself.

 In line 13-15 the speaker says that not only her presence bestowed “a spot of Joy into the Duchess” but also the compliments of the painter. The speaker expects to be the sole apple of his lover’s eyes, the reason for telling us this is almost a result of bragging but it arises from the inner insecurities she experienced while being in a relationship with her Duchess. He wanted to be the only person gaining attention from his lover this is common amongst narcissists (Chen).

 The Duke imagines how the painter could have been carrying out the painting drawing conclusions of his won on how the artist might have been causing her Duchess to blush. The increase in self-imagination of things that might be done to make the Duchess wrong in his eyes continue to grip his mind (Mathieu).

The Duke almost admits how high he holds praise coming from others because she views that the Duchess is guilty of becoming intrigued by such compliments from the painter. The Duke puts a judgmental tone in his voice when accusing the Duchess of deciding to blush as a course that was brought by a decision.

 The speaker of the poem accuses the duchess of being easily impressed by the flirtations of random strangers. In a way the speaker expected his duchess to be a discriminatory snob. He accused her looks of going everywhere. He accuses her of liking everything she sees, this attribute is common in narcissists they tend to explain their classiness by disputing the general behavior of regarding most things as precious (Zhao). The narcissist would rather direct their admiration to something rather than everything. Their taste is more given to grandeur things and they do not show interest in some small things such as others do.

 The speaker liked it when her duchess was complimenting her or blushing when she spoiled her but he hated to see others making her blush. A narcissist appreciates being appreciated. They would have that appreciation from the ones who they wish to get their attention but they do not view it necessary to be appreciated by those they wish not.

 The speaker says that at times the duchess spoke while other times she just gave a “blush at least”. This indicates that the speaker could have wanted more from her in terms of compliments and appreciation. The speaker could have seen his tendencies of spoiling her duchess as quite necessary though they did not bring the response that he wanted to get from her love (Chen).

 The speaker creates various visions in his head of what his lover would be doing when he questions the form in which he thanked the other men. The speaker expects that the favors or things he does for her duchess should not be associated with the favors of others, he considers the things he does to be more grandiose that what other people might attempt. The concerns of the speaker raise from his inward obsessions.

 The concerns of narcissists usually arise from their ego (Huang, 72). The duke has the audacity to credit giving her duchess a “nine-hundred-years-old name” (33) from the achievements connected to their aristocratic family (Shmoop). Narcissists are able to brag about their lineage frequently and the association of influential people in the society.

 The narcissistic nature of the speaker gives us more information about himself in some subtle way that he may even be unaware of. The gift of giving the duchess her simple pleasures of life and a big name should have made her disown other aspects of the gifts she was receiving. The speaker says that they would not argue with the duchess over her behavior because he regards this as stooping low, he says “Who’d stoop to blame, this sort of trifling? (34-35)” (Shmoop).

 Even though the issues at hand seems to be of great concern he considers it a sort of trifling to be arguing about it. This is in effect to his image and the things that he prefers to hold of high esteem that he disregards arguing over what the woman did wrong. The view that something is not worth engaging in while the same thing is of great concern to you means that your ego is an impediment. The hindrance of the ego in associating with things is a sign of narcissism and the speaker of the poem exhibits a lot of ego both to the audience and to the subject of his affection.