Robert Browning's Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came Essay

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Robert Browning's Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came

Robert Browning's "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" is a poem about torture. Whether Roland is actually in Hell or just trapped in the madness of his mind, his own failure and the way in which he wasted his life will continue to torment him for all eternity. The imagery throughout the poem displays a completely despairing attitude, and several bitter ironies which he cannot escape plague him during his quest.

The title "Childe" implies an untested knight, but Roland is already jaded at the beginning of the poem. Reliving his failure, Roland has no reason to have any positive thoughts. Everything he sees is negative and ugly. The grass "[grows] as scant as hair in
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Though he has been searching for the Dark Tower his entire life, once he finds it, he cannot see it. The blind horse is representative of how Roland sees himself. He is "blind as the fool's heart" just as the horse is blind, and his hatred of the horse is parallel to the hatred he has for himself because he is a failure. Finally he realizes that the "woe of years" was not worth the "one moment." The Dark Tower is representative of this empty triumph because no matter how many times he reaches the Tower he is still "inside the den" and cannot get out. His success is always his downfall.

The cripple he meets symbolizes the temptation that led him down the wrong path: "one more victim gained thereby." Roland is aware that he has been tricked into his doom but no longer cares. He simply wants all of his suffering to end and even now he terribly fears failure. The path to which he has been led summarily represents the idea that he cannot go back. Once he steps in that direction he can never go back to "the safe road." His friends Cuthbert and Giles also made mistakes that prevented them from returning to their previous lives. While he asserts that something "must be wicked to deserve such pain," he knows from the example of his friends that "one night's disgrace" can cause suffering, too. He is trapped in his "darkening path" and has "naught else to do" but to continuously seek the Dark Tower.

Roland is "quiet as
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