Robert Browning and the Dramatic Monologue

1390 Words6 Pages
Gabrielle Stith
English 12-2
May 13, 2004

Robert Browning and the Dramatic Monologue

Controlling Purpose: to analyze selected works of Robert Browning.

I. Brief overview of Browning
A. Greatest Poet
B. Family Life

II. Brief overview of "My Last Duchess"
A. Descriptive adjectives
B. Cause for death
C. Description of his wife

III. Definition of Dramatic Monologue

IV. Comments by Glenn Everett
A. Point of View
B. Tone
C. Audience Imagination

V. Comments by Terry Bohannon
A. No Christianity
B. Evil Characters

Robert Browning and the Dramatic Monologue

Robert Browning, one of the greatest poets of his literary period, was born on May 7, 1812, in Camberwell, London. He was the first child of Robert and Sarah Anna Browning
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The dramatic monologue, as we understand it today "is a lyric poem in which the speaker addresses a silent listener, revealing himself in the context of a dramatic situation" (Murfin 97). "The character is speaking to an identifiable but silent listener at a dramatic moment in the speaker's life. The circumstances surrounding the conversation of the one side which we "hear" as the dramatic monologue, are made by clear implication and an insight into the character of the speaker may result" (Holman 152).
Although Browning wrote numerous dramatic monologues, his contemporaries often criticized his works as being too emotional. The dramatic monologues of Browning are characterized by certain identifiable traits. The three requirements of a Browning dramatic monologue are "The reader takes the part of the listener; the speaker uses a case-making argumentative tone: we complete the dramatic scene from within, by means of inference and imagination" (Landow 1). Critics have interpreted the third requirement, the readers interpretation and conclusions, as a suspension of the reader/listener between sympathy and judgment. The reader has a choice regarding the intent of the speaker, but he/she must remain removed until the speaker is done making his argument. Glenn Everett believes the role of the listener is a discovery that engages the imagination, but the listener must remain detached and abstain from passing judgment until the work is
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