My Last Duchess Practice Commentary
We know that it is from a first errors perspective as personal pronouns are used and we know that the narrator is Nell because she comes in other stories from the same anthology such as With Art of Cooking and Serving’. The first paragraph starts with the first line from the poem and introduces the character Of Miss Bessie. The line from the poem creates a literary allusion and shows how the poem by Browning is connected to this story. It is clear that Miss Bessie is a teacher in this story addressing a class of high school students.
The nouns “Gorilla, Scrip, Hippo” are used for other teachers. This name calling is comical but also shows how Miss Bessie is different from the other teachers as she has a comparatively more respectful name among her students. There is a use of colon before listing the names and Miss Besides dialogues are given in quotations. The paragraph ends with Miss Bessie asking a question to her class. The purpose of this paragraph is to introduce the character of Miss Bessie, briefly give the setting of the classroom and show how that poem by Browning is connected to the story.
The second paragraph is a lot more secretive about the classroom and the setting outside the room. We get a lot of visual imagery of the sky outside which is described as a “hazy blue, a warm, drowsy color”. These words give the reader a sense of laziness and the relaxed atmosphere outside the classroom. Also the fact that the students “couldn’t see anything out of them[the windows] except the sky” suggests that classroom is confining. She then goes on to describe the sky in even more detail as “at the edge of eye sight, huge and featureless and soothing, rolling on and on like the sea”.
Here the writer makes a simile between the sky and sea but the sky could also be a motif for Knell’s future after high school as she is about to graduate soon and doesn’t know what she wants to do, but her time is passing away just like the sky. We also get an auditory of other the some flies “buzzing” and “bumbling” in the classroom. This shows that Nell is distracted as she is paying attention to these tiny details instead of paying attention in class. She also says she “couldn’t risk turning [her] head” to see the flies which makes the action sound more dangerous than it should be.
The paragraph ends with her saying “l was supposed to be thinking about last”. This takes Nell and the reader back to the class where Miss Bessie is discussing the poem. “Last” being the last sentence in the paragraph also gives a sense of ending to the reader. The purpose of this paragraph is to contrast the confined setting inside the classroom with the freedom and space outside the classroom and also show a indirectly characterize Nell. The third paragraph starts with the word “last” repeated which says that Nell is really thinking about the poem.
We also get an insight into what Nell thinks a duchess is like when she describes it as an “instituting rustle, a whispering: taffeta brushing over a floor”. Such an auditory and visual imagery gives the reader a sense of royalty and luxury. She then goes on to describe the sleepy atmosphere in the classroom saying “it was hard to resist dozing off, drifting down into reverie or half sleep” and this contrasts with the lively atmosphere outside the classroom as “the trees outside were flowering’ and “pollen was eddying everywhere”. She says this is during the month of May which gives us he wider setting and the season which is spring here.
Words such as “classroom”, “metal framed desks” give us a sense of confinement. It mullein’s thoughts and views are confined by what she is being taught in the class. The classroom with “the vibration of it’s newness” is juxtaposed with “the old smell in the room” given off by the adolescents in there. This shows how even though something may change over time, others remain unchanged. This gives a sense of timelessness. We also get some unpleasant olfactory imagery when she describes the old smell as “fermenting’, “LIFO’, “salty”.
The fourth paragraph starts with the word “last” just like the previous paragraph. This creates parallelism with the previous paragraph which also started with the same word. It shows how Nell diverged from the topic for a bit and is again thinking about it. She creates a simile between the number of duchesses and a chorus line to help us visualize how many duchesses there might have been before. The words “gone, over with, left behind” create negative diction to imply that something terrible might have happened to the duchess.
In terms f structure this is a short paragraph compared to others so far and gives a sense of abruptness. The purpose of these first four paragraphs of the short story is to introduce two of the main characters, the protagonist Nell and her English teacher Miss Bessie, give the audience the setting and show how the poem in discussion is an important part of the story. The audience for this short story is adolescents in high school as the protagonist herself is a teenager and is going through an important transition in her life that the adolescents can relate to.