My Last Duchess
How we cite our quotes:
(since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I) (9-10)
The Duke’s first allusion to the great power he wields comes in a parenthetical aside, in which he lets slip, intentionally or unintentionally, that he alone controls access to his late wife’s portrait. Even her image is under his jealous guard. The words "control freak" come to mind.
She thanked men, – good! but thanked
Somehow – I know not how – as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. (31-34)
The Duke’s emphasis on his family history and prestige – his "nine-hundred-years-old name" – is underscored by his choice of the word "ranked" to describe the way people should react to gifts. When was the last time you came up with a hierarchy of your birthday presents?
– E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. (42-43)
Maintaining his own stiff-upper-lip dignity is more important to the Duke than dropping the Duchess a few hints that, if she doesn’t start being a bit less happy-go-lucky, he’s going to have her killed. "Stooping" would be a more serious threat to his power than her flirtatious nature.