POETRY - ROBERT BROWNING

Remember it! & Test it!

Remember it! & Test it!

  • Inference– reading in between the lines- something we always have to do in dramatic monologues
  • Dramatic monologue– poem told in the first person where there is an implied auditor (listener) who does not take part in the dialogue but is involved in the scene. This type of poem explores the character of the speaker through the things they say and allows the poet to write as if they are morally reprehensible characters.
  • Argument– the speaker in a dramatic monologue follows an argument, where everything they say builds towards an idea- e.g. that Porphyria wants to die.
  • Power and control– not only do both characters gain control over their female victims but there is imagery and even structural detail that highlights the speakers’ need for control and domination.
  • Death– a key theme in both poems as both happen after the speaker has murdered a woman.
  • Madness– both speakers try and rationalise murder, one by showing that his wife deserved it, the other by claiming that his lover wanted to die. There is also a disparity between the reality they describe and the way they interpret this reality.
  • Sexuality– sex and death are intrinsically linked in both poems as both women are killed as a result of sexual desire or perceived sexual desire.

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Test It!

  1. Comment on the tension between the speaker’s interpretation of the events he describes and the listener’s.
  2. What is the narrative role of the negotiator in ”My Last Duchess”?
  3. Some Victorians found Browning’s dramatic monologues hard to follow, what purpose do you think his complex structure has in the narrative of the poem?
  4. Do you agree that powerful men dominate Browning’s women?
  5. Identify 3 poetic techniques used and write a paragraph explaining why you think Browning has used them (e.g. rhyme scheme, rhythm or form).
  6. Last but not least, learn at least one quote for each narrative/ poetic technique and explain it’s basic purpose and effect. Quotations are key to top marks.