Robert Browning Essay

1114 words - 4 pages

Robert Browning was born on May 7, 1812, in Camberwell, which isnow a part of London. He had no real formal education so he was largelyself educated. His father was a smart man with an extensive library. Hismother was kindly, religious minded woman, who loved music and herbrilliant son. He lived at his parents house almost until the time of hismarriage. He attended a boarding school near Camberwell and spent a littlebit of his time traveling to places like Russia and Italy. But he preferred tohave his education at home, where he was tutored in foreign languages,boxing, music, and horsemanship, and where he read 'omnivorously.' At theage of 14 he first discovered Percy Shelly works and was strongly influencedby it. After reading Shelly, He made the decision to be an atheist and aliberal. But in a few years he grew away from atheism and the extremephases of his liberalism. The things he learned from the books he read wouldlargely influence his poems later in his life.His earlier poetry was regarded with indifference and largelymisunderstood. It was not until the 1860's that he would at last gain publicityand would even be compared with Alfred Lord Tennyson, another veryfamous poet of the time. Some of his early poetry was influenced by hisunusual education. The poet also had an anxious desire to avoid exposinghimself explicitly to his readers. The first poem he wrote called Pauline, waswritten in 1883 at the age of twenty-one, but he did not sign it because of hisfear of exposing himself to the public too much.1Since Browning did not want to expose himself too personally, hedecided to try his hand at writing plays. He was encouraged by the actorW.C. Macready. Browning began work on his first play, Strafford, ahistorical tragedy. Unfortunately, the play only lasted four nights when itwas first put on in London in 1837. For ten more years, the young writerwould continue to struggle to produce a play that would better hold theattention of the audience, but they all remained failures. Not only didBrowning profit from this otherwise disheartening experience, but writing thedialogue for the characters helped him explore the 'dramatic dialogue.' Thedramatic dialogue, 'enabled him to, through imaginary speakers, to avoidexplicit autobiography and yet did not demand that these speakers act out thestory with the speed or simplifications that a stage production demands. 'William Irvine notes, 'In Browning monologues, murderers recollect, but donot commit, their murders'. His first collection of such monologues ,'Dramatic Lyrics,' appearing in 1842, was as unsuccessful as his plays hadbeen.His poem Pauline was followed by a dramatic poem called Paracelsuswhich was the first poem to bring him fame and prominence with the otherliterary figures of the day. In Paracelsus Browning used a Renaissancesetting, which would become a familiar motif in his later work. From 1841to 1846 he wrote a series of poems under the title 'Bells and Pomegranates,'which included such...

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