With reference to this question compare the narrators of any two poems by browning which you have studied, pay particular attention to the poetic techniques by which browning conveys his effects
Robert Browning was liberal and believed in freedom, he liked romantics and was inspired by them. He was influenced by poets such as Shelley and Byron. He was very religious and enjoyed theatre. He was forced to live abroad in Italy because his father-in-law wouldn’t accept the marriage. He was a poet during the Victorian era.
Personally I believe that Robert Browning shows aspects of being mad, bad and sad in all of his poems but I think he is more, mad than any of the others.
I am going to compare two poems, “My last duchess” and the “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister”; both of them have their similarities and differences.
To start of with “My last duchess”, the Duke is the narrator of this poem, and tells us he is entertaining an emissary who has come to negotiate the Duke’s next marriage, because he has recently been widowed.
He is in the process of marrying a daughter of another powerful family, so this shows us that the duke is a rather greedy person as he already has a lot of money. It also makes us think about what has happened to his last Duchess. As the duke is showing the visitor around his palace he comes across a painting, a very beautiful painting of a very beautiful woman, smiling.
He says to the visitor that he never lets “Strangers” look at the picture, this means that only he himself looks at the picture, when he feels like it. This also shows that he has total control over the picture; he decides when the curtains open or closes.
The duke then goes on to say that anything would put a “spot of joy” on the Duchess’ cheek, even a bough of cherries from some “officious fool”; this shows that the duke was rather jealous as well as mad. The Duke then carries on talking, and says his gift of “a nine-hundred-years-old name” is ranked the same as any other gift given to her and this makes him even more mad and begins to build up a tension. The duke wants to try to explain his problems to her, but this would mean that the Duke would have to stoop and the Duke is “Never to stoop”. Therefore the Duchess carries on smiling at people and this tension starts to build up further in the duke until he “gave commands” then all the “smiles stopped together”. The Duke then returns to the business at hand, which is to arrange his next marriage. As the Duke and the emissary walk they leave the painting behind, the Duke points out other notable pieces of art in his collection as well.
“My Last Duchess” includes rhyming pentameter lines. The lines do not use end-stops; rather, they use enjambment, sentences and other grammatical units which do not always conclude at the end of lines. The rhymes do not create a sense of closure when they come, but remain a driving force behind the Duke’s gripping character. The Duke uses the force of his personality to make horrifying information seem normal, as many people would not normally mention past wives unless the person is obviously mad. Indeed, the poem provides a great example of a dramatic monologue: the speaker is clearly distinct from the poet; an audience is suggested but never appears and the Duke’s character is the poem’s main aim. Also by using a lot of syllables per line you know that the Duke wants attention.
In the “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” the poem starts of with hatred immediately as the narrator being a fellow monk with “Gr-r-r” being mentioned as the very first word of the poem and one of the very last as well. This is either very strange or you could even call it mad. With the poem starting in such a way you can tell that this jealous monk is very vicious also as he says words such as “…kill you!”. As we go on the monk still hates Brother Lawrence; even though, so far he seems very innocent as he only gardens and talks peacefully and he only gardens for other people’s enjoyment. Therefore, so far there is no crime. So only a mad man would want to kill an innocent person? well we find out how a little thing such as him caring for his eating utensils annoys this jealous monk, this is a great link to the Duke in “My Last Duchess” because they both have the same thing in common, and that is that both of them get fired up by simple things such as smiling and being neat about their dining. He also doesn’t like how he marks his utensils with an “L” which I agree is wrong for a monk but not bad enough to kill someone.
If this monk is thinking about killing another monk and after find out he has his own possessions then he can’t be such a great monk and therefore has no argument against what brother Lawrence is doing, so once again he would have to be mad to be doing what he is doing. “(He-he! There his lily snaps!)”, here we realize that he is still watching Brother Lawrence in the garden and it is just wicked when he laughs at how his lily snaps, there is an argument for him being bad as he is laughing at someone else’s misfortunes, but again I believe that the strongest argument is that he is just plain mad; because of how stressed he is getting and wants someone dead over tiny issues. Towards the end he is going to kill him in a monk’s perspective and he is going to show him his “scrofulous French novel” which will damn him to hell forever, surely no-one normal would ever do such a thing, so this person has to be mad.
In conclusion both poems “My Last Duchess”, and “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister”, both have the same ideas and morals behind the narrators as they both are jealous of someone and both want death to that person, in the “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” it is brother Lawrence who he wants killed however in “My Last Duchess” you can argue that he has already killed his previous wife. I also think that in the poem “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” the narrator is almost completely like the Duke because they both are fuelled by power, hate and jealousy. However both of them in my opinion are completely mad.