lesson 10 - ROBERTBROWNING ReadingAssignment:...

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ROBERT BROWNING        Reading Assignment:          Norton Anthology, pages 1182-1219.        Writing Assignment 1. What are the principal characteristics of the form known as the "dramatic monologue" (see 1182-1183)? What is it, as a poetic form, especially well-suited to do? Support your answers with specific examples from "The Laboratory," "The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church," and "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came." Characterize the speaker in each poem. How does Browning's use of the dramatic monologue compare or contrast to Tennyson's use of the form in "Ulysses"? The dramatic monologue was a new form of poetry that changed how poetry was to be written. Page 1182 describes that the dramatic monologue “separates the speaker from the poet in such a way that the reader must work through the words of the speaker to discover the meaning of the poet.” This means that one character in the poem tells a story, and a reader must infer from details in the story what the author thinks of the character and events. The speaker addresses a silent audience. The dramatic monologue’s language and sentence, including rhymes and at times offensive diction make it well suited to attract a broad audience. In “The Laboratory”, a scientist collects poisons, which he calls “invisible pleasures” (18). He experiments with patients who are dying, thinking not about their lives but rather about the wonders of his potions. He clearly has no conscience, saying in stanza 11, “Is it done? Take my mask off! Nay, be not morose, / It kills her, and this prevents seeing it close.” He thinks it’s fine because “beside, can it ever hurt me?” He is selfish and terrible. Browning may be doubting science and the way it seems like a cold and inhuman practice. In “The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed’s Church,” a bishop directs the building of his own tomb. He solicits “nephews” (possibly younger priests) to build the tomb for him. He is evidently very concerned about being remembered on earth, and ensures that his tomb is magnificent, down to every stone. He is corrupt: he describes a “lump” of blue stone that he stole from his church when it burned down, and wishes for it to be part of his tomb (43). The Bishop is guilty of pride, greed, sexual relationships, rivalry, and envy. Thus, he is not a very religious person. Browning likely is expressing a theme that is common in many of his works: that of religious people who lack faith and thus are not actually good people. (see below)
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In “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,” we meet an unknighted “childe roland.” He has searched for years (“whole world-wide wandering”) to find a dark tower. He is surrounded by “grotesqueness” and “woe” (82). He lives in a desolate world in which grass and greenness don’t exist (stanza 12) and everything is “Bog, clay and ruble, sand and stark black death.” In his journey, he is completely alone. We can see that the “Childe Roland” is a symbol for a solitary
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lesson 10 - ROBERTBROWNING ReadingAssignment:...

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