My Last Duchess
by Robert Browning
Along with blushes, the Duchess bestows pleased smiles on anyone and anything that brings a little bit of joy into her life. The Duke thinks of these smiles almost the way you might think of collector’s items – they’re worth less (maybe even worthless) because she gives out so many of them. In fact, it seems like the Duke thinks that the Duchess should only smile for him. Taking pleasure in your life, let alone in its subtle details, just doesn’t fit with his prestige-and-power philosophy.
- Lines 23-24: The Duke continues to use indirect language and figures of speech to imply that the Duchess is too flirtatious without saying so directly.
- In these lines, he uses innuendo together with metonymy – "her looks went everywhere" – to suggest that she herself "goes everywhere" too. (An innuendo is a seemingly innocent statement that implies something bawdy, sexy, or racy. Basically, anything you could follow with "nudge, nudge" or "that’s what she said" counts as an innuendo.)
- Lines 31-34: The Duchess isn’t the only one reduced to an intangible thing associated with her – the Duke describes his marriage to her using metonymy, calling it the "gift" of his "nine-hundred-years-old name."
- Lines 43-45: The Duke asks a rhetorical question, implying that the Duchess bestows the same smile on everyone around her.
- Line 46: The Duke uses synecdoche when he admits to his murder of the Duchess; instead of saying that he killed her, he mentions that all of her smiles have stopped.