Robert Browning: The Man Who Perfected the Dramatic Monologue

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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-b...

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... casually talking about their loves. Then as the poems begin to unravel, so do the speakers. “Robert Browning was born to be a great poet, from early childhood he had a knack for poetry, his works are prime examples of what at dramatic monologue should be” (Kukathas 159). Browning’s works are not about what is written or said. His works came down to what the narrators are feeling, and it is up to the readers to pick up on clues given to them by Browning in his dramatic monologues.

Works Cited

Curry, S. S., Browning and the Dramatic Monologue, Haskell House, 1965.

Pearsall, Robert Brainard, Robert Browning, Twayne Publishers, Inc. 1974.

Sutton, Max Keith, "Language as Defense in 'Porphyria's Lover,'" in College English, Vol. 31, No. 3, December, 1969, pp. 280-89.

Kukathas, Uma, Barry Popowich, and Michael Burduck. "Porphyria's Lover." Poetry for Students. 2002.
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