Browning by Brogan

By Brogan Collis.
• Throughout many of Browning’s poems of which are
being studied, themes such as sanity vs. insanity,
perception and expectation, historical (and infamous)
figures from Italy, murder and justice, religion vs.
science, seem to occur often within the subject of the
• All the six poems studied are narratives with a
diegetic narrator and often implicit listener whom is
either specified or passive.
• This poem has a narrator, the
Duke (hinted to be the Duke
Ferreira of Italy) who too is
a protagonist, as the poem is
told from the Duke’s memory
of his late wife: the duchess,
and her death; the dark
undercurrents which surround
this event discussed in the
dramatic monologue.
• The listener is implicit but
specified: a messenger from
the Duke’s perspective
bride’s house.
• This poem is reflective, studying the insanity’s of the mind, the
possibilities of murder and the grieving state, which we see
the Duke in.
• There is the argument over the Duchess’ actual fidelity as we
only get the Duke’s account, making it an unreliable narrative.
• Therefore there is debate between readers on whether the
Duke is seen as a person to hate or pity for his actions in
reaction to his late wife.
• Browning however does make the Duke seem somewhat
dangerous throughout, as if the monologue is a threat.
• Here too we see a dramatic
monologue with a narrator
being an unnamed character • This poem differs from other
of whom, we are led to
dramatic monologues in that it
believe, suffers from the
has a double narrative:
disease porphyria.
• There is an unspecified
audience; the narrative seems
to be more of the confessions
of the deranged narrator who
is trying to justify himself.
• This poem, like ‘My Last Duchess’, too studies madness and
murder, but in a far more explicit form.
• We know that Browning had a certain fascination with mental
disease, the Victorian era being a major turning point in the
understanding of metal aliment. Porphyria, the disease, was
only just discovered by Victorian scientists before the publication
of this poem.
• Moreover, this poem questions divine intervention, Browning’s
other fascination: does God punish the wicked; even the active
narrator questions this at the end of the poem?
• Again, within this dramatic monologue
there is an active narrator who too is a
protagonist, telling the poem in 1st
• There is an implicit listener whom is
specified as the chemist in the “devil’s
smithy”(aka the laboratory where the
poison is being made).
• This poem by Browning again looks at another possible mentally
unstable mind of the active narrator. She is depicted as being
possibly schizophrenic, jumping from one subject to another
constantly throughout the poem, from the “colour” of the poison
not being correct to how she is going to be dancing with the
“king” of France later.
• Again, like the Duke from “My Last Duchess”, the readers are
left to dispute whether they argue or condemn the actions of the
female active narrator in revenge for her unfaithful
• The active narrator, who introduces
himself as the renaissance artist, Fra
Lippo Lippi (real life figure Filippo Lippi
of Florence, Italy).
• Again this is a dramatic monologue with
a diegetic narrator and a specified
implicit listener whom are a group of
Italian ‘policemen’ of the time.
• This is one of the more controversial
themes of all of Browning's poems
• This poem explicitly questions art on
it’s spirituality, especially within the
church, but also questions celibacy
within the church, which the narrator,
Fra Lippo, quite clearly states that
he and most of the clergy do not
abstain from the opposite sex.
• Another dramatic monologue with
an active narrator whom is a
soldier, we can possibly presume
he to be an Italian soldier of the
1848 revolution, but he could be a
soldier of any civil unrest.
• There is only a implied listener, as
we listen to his thought whilst he
walks to the gallows for his
• This poem is very reflective, split into the past before the
narrator left for war and this execution after public opinion
has shifted.
• This studies again the existence of God, the patriot sure that
he shall be saved after death for fighting for his just cause,
and he will no longer need fear what public opinion will say
about him.
• Again this is an unreliable narrator, and yet one we trust and
sympathies with.
• A dramatic monologue with an
indirect diegetic monologist who is
telling the legendary folk tail to the
specified implicate listener, “Willy”.
• This is originally a Brother’s Grim
tale from Northern Germany of
Gothic literary origin, introducing
this theme of a ‘danse macabre’.
• The poem discusses the themes of revenge, as does ‘The
• It also looks at fear: fear of the unknown moreover; what will
happen to us after the figure of death appears: one of the
theories to who the Pied Piper actually is.