My Last Duchess 6 (Pages 211 – 272)



I don’t like Ivo too much. There is something dark about him, and when Cora reproaches him for something or when she tries to surprise him, he manages to turn the whole thing round so that it seems as if Cora is to blame.

One example is when she buy a painting by Rubens because she knows that the family used to own a Rubens in the chapel and Ivo regrets losing the painting. So Cora decides to find a dealer, and even though the man who now owns the painting which used to belong to Ivo’s family refuses to see it, she can buy another painting, a madonna and her son. Her good intentions are genuine, but Ivo reacts coldly, making her feel guilty because she has bought the painting which belonged to some of his acquaintances. His attitude leaves a lot to be desired. Thankfully, at the end of this episode things perk up when Cora tells him that she is expecting.

Another case is when Cora is invited by Charlotte Beauchamp to a soiree in her house. Ivo refuses to go, and Cora decides to attend alone. There she is introduced to the painter Louvain, who wants to paint her likeliness, Stebbins, a poet, and the actress Beatrice Stanley. Cora is made to feel naive and humiliated when the actress and then Odo Beauchamp let her know that it is public knowledge that her husband and Rebecca were intimate at some point.

When she returns home, Cora tells Ivo about how she has felt after realising that she knows very little about his past. Her words are not welcome, and instead of the heart-to-heart conversation she expected, she and Ivo end up arguing, and somehow he manages to make Cora feel worse. Ivo justifies everything with the money she owns, and it is clear that he only married her for her money. And there is something going on between him and Charlotte; when Cora first hinted that she had learnt something about his past amorous liaisons, he is conflicted first, but when she mentions Rebecca Stanley, he is relieved, so it is clear that he is hiding something.

From this conversation we learn more about Ivo and his ghosts. He mentions that he never wanted to be a duke. His brother was meant to inherit the dukedom, but he died unexpectedly. Now he is hunted by his brother’s death and the story of his father. Ivo tells Cora about his mother cheating on his father with the Prince of Wales and with others. Ivo believes that his mother’s deceit was what killed his father as well as the pressure of keeping up with his title, and that is why Ivo hates his inheritance. I liked him here, but he ends up his emotional speech by thanking Cora for bringing the money which has helped him with all his obligations. That was quite a downer; there are no words of love, and I don’t know why Cora didn’t feel more disappointed.

Now Cora is thinking about surprising her husband once again, and I’m afraid this will backfire. The painter, Louvain, wants to paint her, and he even bullies her into going to his study the following day. Despite her misgivings, Cora goes there alone. Louvain is quite insolent, and he makes her wear her hair down and even unbutton her blouse a bit. Cora feels uncomfortable, and then he kisses her. Cora barely reacts, and even though she tells herself that she wants to go, she stays and goes the next day, this time with Bertha. I think she likes the looks she gets from him, but I don’t think Cora will do anything. What she intends is to surprise Ivo with the finished portrait, but I don’t know if he will like it. Her intention is to throw a party and present him with the picture. I have the hunch that Ivo won’t like to see Cora the way Louvain is painting her.


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