Robert Browning: The Man Who Perfected The Dramatic Monologue

1342 words - 5 pages

Robert Browning was a very successful homegrown writer. Browning’s first work was published when he was only twenty-one years old. He wrote from 1833 till 1880 during the Victorian era. Porphyria’s Lover, My Last Duchess, and Sordello are just a few of his numerous pieces of award-winning work. There was one constant in many of his poems, dramatic monologues. Browning’s dramatic monologues are not about what the speaker says, but about what the character inadvertently implies (Sutton 289). What has made Browning’s dramatic monologues so impressive compared to other poets?
Robert Browning was born in 1812 in Camberwell, London. His father was a bank clerk who had and impressive book collection, which Browning enjoyed reading through very much. Browning gained and education from home that was artistically inclined. Supposedly, Browning was a fluent writer and reader by age five. At ten years old he attended his first school, Peckam School, where he stayed for four years. Once he read Percy Shelley’s poetry at age thirteen he declared himself a devote poet. In 1833, he published his first long poem “Pauline,” then from 1841-1846 he published his works under the alias, Bells and Pomegranates, which were not received well at that time. Surprisingly, this is when some of his most famous poems were published. During this time he also met his wife, Elizabeth Barret. Elizabeth is also a very well established Victorian era poet.
Elizabeth and Browning were deep in love, and on September 12, 1846 they eloped. They lived a happy life in Italy, and in 1849 they had a son, Robert Wiedemann Barrett Browning, whom they called Pen. Browning traveled extensively after his wife passed in 1861. He continued writing until the he was on his death-bed. On December 12, 1889, he died at his son’s home the same day his last work, Asolando, was published. Browning is now buried in the Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey. The story of Browning and Elizabeth was made into a play, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, and eventually adapted into a movie twice.
Robert Browning’s works ranged from short to long poem, and some unsuccessful plays. Many of his works were not very successful at the time of publishing, but they slowly gained popularity throughout the years. “There is one thing a reader can always expect to find in most of his works, a fantastic dramatic monologue” (Popowich 162). Some of the most famous dramatic monologues of Browning’s are Porphyria’s Lover and My Last Duchess. Browning was very original, and that is one thing that separates him from the crowd (Kukathas 159). Browning’s monologues where not about the things said but the unsaid. It is about the reader’s interpretation of the speaker. The reader decides how the speaker may feel, or what the speaker wants. The reader becomes one with the speaker, and they will then have an intimate insight into the speakers changing thoughts and feelings (Burduck 165).
Porphyria’s Lover, is a long poem about the...

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