My Last Duchess
by Robert Browning
It’s important to notice that when the Duke describes something that he thinks of as inappropriate or base for him to do, he does so by calling it "stooping." He considers himself to be on a high social pedestal, with his "nine-hundred-years-old name" and his wealth. He can’t "lower" himself, even to tell someone that he’s angry with them. Normal communication and behavior are out of the question for him, because they fall into the category of "stooping."
- Lines 34-35: The Duke uses a rhetorical question to force his listener to agree with him that it would be "stooping" to talk to the Duchess directly about her inappropriate behavior.
- Line 36: A paradox: the Duke claims that he doesn’t have "skill in speech," even though he’s speaking skillfully in order to say so!
- Lines 42-43: In these lines, as the Duke repeats his belief that communicating with the Duchess would be "stooping," Browning uses assonance, or the repetition of vowel sounds, to bring emphasis to the lines.