Browning, Robert. (1812 - 1889).
L i f e
- a husband of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning
W o r k
- experiments with language: grotesque rhymes and jaw-breaking diction
- gives psychological insights in devious ways in which our minds work: self-justifying contortions of criminals, complex motives of sinners, etc.
- preoccupied with murderers, sadistic husbands, and petty manipulators
- his favourite characters: connoisseurs, artists, and thinkers
- uses characters of the past x but: problems of the present
- concerned with problems of faith x doubt, good x evil, function of the artist in modern life, etc.
- dramatic monologue: separates the speaker from the poet who merely overhears his characters in a self-revelatory soliloquy
- makes each character individual through his articulation, emphasis, pause, reiteration, and/or idiolect
Dramatic Lyrics (1842):
- his first collection of dramatic monologue poems
> “My Last Duchess”:
- a duke speaks of his wife whom he killed out of jealousy
Men and Women (1855):
- reflects his enjoyment in Italy: picturesque landscapes, lively street scenes, and monuments from especially the Renaissance past
> “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”:
- an elusive and suggestive Gothic poem set in the Middle Ages
- the title: from Edgar’s song in Shakespeare’s King Lear (1605)
> “Two in the Campagna”:
- speaks not of ideal union x but: of distinctness and agnosticism in love
Dramatis Personae (1864):
> “Caliban upon Setebos”:
- criticises Darwinism and natural religion
The Ring and the Book (1868 – 9):
- a single poem in four volumes, culmination of the dramatic monologue
- based on a legal record of a murder trial in the 17th century Rome: a sadistic husband accuses his young wife of adultery with a priest trying to rescue her from her husband’s tyranny, stabs her to death, and is executed
- employs a texture of voices: contrasts multiple points of view of participants and spectators
(Picture: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorRobert Browning. (1812 - 1889). British.
WorkPoet. Author of dramatic monologue poems.
Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.
Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.
Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.
Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.
Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.
Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.
"Perfectly pure and good: I found / A thing to do, and all her hair / In one long yellow string I wound / Three times her little throat around, / And strangled her. No pain felt she; / I am quite sure she felt no pain."
From "Porphyria's Lover".