Robert Browning’s Poems. REVISION FOR EXAMS!!!!!!! By Brogan Collis. ASPECTS OF THE NARRATIVE.
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Robert Browning’s Poems REVISION FOR EXAMS!!!!!!! By Brogan Collis.
ASPECTS OF THE NARRATIVE • Throughout many of Browning’s poems of which are being studied, themes such as sanity vs. insanity, perception and expectation, historical (and infamous) figures from Italy, murder and justice, religion vs. science, seem to occur often within the subject of the poems. • All the six poems studied are narratives with a diegetic narrator and often implicit listener whom is either specified or passive.
‘My Last Duchess’ • This poem has a narrator, the Duke (hinted to be the Duke Ferreira of Italy) whotoo is a protagonist, as thepoem is told from the Duke’s memory of his late wife: the duchess, and her death; the dark undercurrents which surround this event discussed in the dramatic monologue. • The listener is implicit but specified: a messenger from the Duke’s perspective bride’s house.
‘My Last Duchess’ • This poem is reflective, studying the insanity’s of the mind, the possibilities of murder and the grieving state, which we see the Duke in. • There is the argument over the Duchess’ actual fidelity as we only get the Duke’s account, making it an unreliable narrative. • Therefore there is debate between readers on whether the Duke is seen as a person to hate or pity for his actions in reaction to his late wife. • Browning however does make the Duke seem somewhat dangerous throughout, as if the monologue is a threat.
‘Porphyria's Lover’ • Here too we see a dramatic monologue with a narrator being an unnamed character of whom, we are led to believe, suffers from the disease porphyria. • There is an unspecified audience; the narrative seems to be more of the confessions of the deranged narrator who is trying to justify himself. • This poem differs from other dramatic monologues in that it has a double narrative:
‘Porphyria's Lover’ • This poem, like ‘My Last Duchess’, too studies madness and murder, but in a far more explicit form. • We know that Browning had a certain fascination with mental disease, the Victorian era being a major turning point in the understanding of metal aliment. Porphyria, the disease, was only just discovered by Victorian scientists before the publication of this poem. • Moreover, this poem questions divine intervention, Browning’s other fascination: does God punish the wicked; even the active narrator questions this at the end of the poem?
‘The Laboratory’ • Again, within this dramatic monologue there is an active narrator who too is a protagonist, telling the poem in 1st person. • There is an implicit listener whom is specified as the chemist in the “devil’s smithy”(aka the laboratory where the poison is being made).
‘The Laboratory’ • This poem by Browning again looks at another possible mentally unstable mind of the active narrator. She is depicted as being possibly schizophrenic, jumping from one subject to another constantly throughout the poem, from the “colour” of the poison not being correct to how she is going to be dancing with the “king” of France later. • Again, like the Duke from “My Last Duchess”, the readers are left to dispute whether they argue or condemn the actions of the female active narrator in revenge for her unfaithful lover/husband.
‘Fra Lippo Lippi’ • The active narrator, who introduces himself as the renaissance artist, Fra Lippo Lippi (real life figure Filippo Lippi of Florence, Italy). • Again this is a dramatic monologue with a diegetic narrator and a specified implicit listener whom are a group of Italian ‘policemen’ of the time.
‘Fra Lippo Lippi’ • This is one of the more controversial themes of all of Browning's poems selected. • This poem explicitly questions art on it’s spirituality, especially within the church, but also questions celibacy within the church, which the narrator, Fra Lippo, quite clearly states that he and most of the clergy do not abstain from the opposite sex.
‘The Patriot’ • Another dramatic monologue with an active narrator whom is a soldier, we can possibly presume he to be an Italian soldier of the 1848 revolution, but he could be a soldier of any civil unrest. • There is only a implied listener, as we listen to his thought whilst he walks to the gallows for his execution.
‘The Patriot’ • This poem is very reflective, split into the past before the narrator left for war and this execution after public opinion has shifted. • This studies again the existence of God, the patriot sure that he shall be saved after death for fighting for his just cause, and he will no longer need fear what public opinion will say about him. • Again this is an unreliable narrator, and yet one we trust and sympathies with.
‘The Pied Piper Of Hamelin’ • A dramatic monologue with an indirect diegetic monologist who is telling the legendary folk tail to the specified implicate listener, “Willy”. • This is originally a Brother’s Grim tale from Northern Germany of Gothic literary origin, introducing this theme of a ‘danse macabre’.
‘The Pied Piper Of Hamelin’ • The poem discusses the themes of revenge, as does ‘The Laboratory’. • It also looks at fear: fear of the unknown moreover; what will happen to us after the figure of death appears: one of the theories to who the Pied Piper actually is.