Browning then returned to England, and after a period of literary inactivity, he began writing again. He remained highly prolific throughout the rest of his life. Browning died in while visiting his son in Venice. After the anonymous publication of Pauline , which Browning later insisted was a dramatic piece, many readers speculated that the sentiments expressed were the poet's own. In his next work, Paracelsus , Browning established the objective framework offered by a more dramatic form and was thus able to distance himself from the characters in the poem.
The dramatic monologue is based on the life of the Renaissance chemist Paracelsus, and the work received largely positive critical reviews. Browning then published Sordello in , also based on a Renaissance subject, but the poem was less than favorably received by the critics, many of whom found it obscure and affected.
In , Browning began publishing a series of poems and dramas under the title Bells and Pomegranates. The final volume appeared in and failed to restore Browning's reputation among critics. In , with the publication of Men and Women , containing Browning's well-known love poems and dramatic monologues, Browning began to receive the respect of some of his critics, although popular success still eluded him.
It was not until the s, and in particular the publication of Dramatis Personae in , that Browning achieved major critical and popular success. The volume was followed shortly thereafter by his masterpiece, The Ring and the Book A series of dramatic monologues spoken by different characters, the work was based on an Italian murder case.
The Ring and the Book cemented Browning's reputation as one of the foremost poets of Victorian England. Contemporary critical acclaim evaded Browning for many years.
Gertrude Reese Hudson observes that the poet's critics required regular and frequent exposure to his unique dramatic method in order to recognize the excellence of Browning's art. Hudson also notes that other factors contributed to Browning's winning over of his critics, including their changing opinion regarding the nature of poetry, as well as a growing appreciation for both the timeliness of Browning's writing, his intellect and originality, and the "totality of his achievement.
Browning's highly individualized style and his usage of dramatic monologue fascinate modern scholars as much as these elements troubled his early critics. John Woolford and Daniel Karlin demonstrate that in using the dramatic monologue format, Browning was primarily interested in the creation and development of dramatic speakers and dramatic situations.
The two critics also analyze Browning's style, finding that his poetry, in its focus on the speaker, insists on being read aloud. Woolford and Karlin further argue that Browning develops two distinct voices in his poetry, voices Browning himself described as "saying" and "singing" voices and which the critics contend result from the influence of the Romantics on Browning's work. In a separate essay, Daniel Karlin examines Browning's use of binary oppositions, finding that "every Browning poem is oppositional in nature.
Other critics review certain volumes of Browning's poetry as a whole, arguing that the individual poems support a larger theme or purpose. Ryals studies Browning's Dramatic Romances and Lyrics with this in mind.
Ryals stresses that the theme of loyalty unites the poems in this volume, and that this theme is often expressed in an ironic manner. Furthermore, Ryals argues that while the majority of the poems may concern national loyalties, the poems also explore other kinds of loyalties, including loyalty to one's self, to one's religion, and to one's beloved. Similarly, Adam Roberts argues for the unity of the poems in Browning's Men and Women , asserting that the volume demonstrates Browning's first successful attempt at balancing the subjective and objective impulses in his poetry.
This synthesis is achieved, Roberts argues, through Browning's characterization. Roberts explains that compared to the idiosyncratic, often insane characters in the earlier Dramatic Romances and Lyrics , the personalities in Men and Women , though complex, "communicate on something approaching our own level," and thus engender empathy and understanding among readers. Roberts goes on to discuss how Browning's continued usage of "grotesque" style and imagery including colloquial language, rough syntax, and precise but blunt forms of expression helps to link the form of these poems to their content.
Considerable critical discussion of Browning's work pertains to his murder mystery, The Ring and the Book. The twelve dramatic monologues, delivered by different characters, have led critics to question which, if any, of these characters serves as the moral authority, or center, of the poem. Adam Potkay argues against assigning this position of moral authority to any one of the characters and instead considers the poem as a "decentered struggle of interpretations" in which the character of Guido leads the way in "decentering" the poem by questioning the very conception of identity.
David Shaw likewise contends that there is no central viewpoint in The Ring and the Book and maintains that while Browning ranks the authority of the characters in the poem, the poet creates no central authority figure. Additionally, Shaw explores the way in which deconstructionism and hermeneutics pervade Browning's masterwork, finding the Pope aligned with hermeneutical criticism and Guido and Tertium Quid aligned with the deconstructionists.
The Complete Works of Robert Browning. Dramatic works in this series are chronologized by date of publication rather than first performance. Several months after the publication of Colombe's Birthday , Browning wrote to his friend Domett enclosing a copy of his play: Introduction to Modern Critical Views: One of the principles of interpretation that will arise out of the future study of the intricacies of poetic revisionism, and of the kinds of misreading that canon-formation engenders, is the realization that later poets and their critical Rather, the poem offers a "decentered struggle of interpretations, " with the character of Guido taking on a decentering role which questions the very notion of identity.
In many poems, especially short lyrics, he achieves effects of obvious felicity. Nevertheless, his superficial difficulties, which prevent an easy understanding of the sense of a passage, are evident enough: Sludge or Napoleon III , obliges the reader to follow a chain of subtle or paradoxical arguments. All these characteristics stand in the way of easy reading. First, Browning often chooses an unexpected point of view, especially in his monologues, thus forcing the reader to accept an unfamiliar perspective.
Second, he is capable of startling changes of focus within a poem. This transition from particular observation to transcendental truth presents much the same challenge to the reader as do the metaphysical poets of the 17th century and much the same excitement.
Third, because Browning seldom presents a speaker without irony , there is a constant demand on the reader to appreciate exactly the direction of satiric force in the poem. It has also been objected that Browning uses his poetry as a vehicle for his philosophy, which is not of itself profound or interesting, being limited to an easy optimism. Thus his great gallery of imagined characters is to be regarded as an exhaustive catalog of human motives, not as a series of self-portraits.
In matters of human conduct his sympathies are with those who show loving hearts, honest natures, and warmth of feeling; certainly these qualities are never satirized. He is in general on the side of those who commit themselves wholeheartedly to an ideal, even if they fail. By itself this might suggest rather a naive system of values, yet he also, sometimes even in the same poem, shows his understanding of those who have been forced to lower their standards and accept a compromise.
In The Ring and the Book Browning displays all his distinctive qualities. Each monologue deals with substantially the same occurrences, but each, of course, describes and interprets them differently. By permitting the true facts to emerge gradually by inference from these conflicting accounts, Browning reveals with increasing subtlety the true natures of his characters.
As each great monologue illuminates the moral being of the speaker, it becomes clear that nothing less than the whole ethical basis of human actions is in question.
For over 20, lines Browning explores his theme, employing an unfaltering blank verse , rising often to passages of moving poetry, realizing in extraordinary detail the life of 17th-century Rome, and creating a series of characters as diverse and fully realized as those in any novel.
In the 20th century his reputation, along with those of the other great Victorians, declined, and his work did not enjoy a wide reading public, perhaps in part because of increasing skepticism of the values implied in his poetry. He has, however, influenced many modern poets, such as Robert Frost and Ezra Pound , partly through his development of the dramatic monologue, with its emphasis on the psychology of the individual and his stream of consciousness , but even more through his success in writing about the variety of modern life in language that owed nothing to convention.
As long as technical accomplishment, richness of texture, sustained imaginative power, and a warm interest in humanity are counted virtues, Browning will be numbered among the great English poets.
We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind. Your contribution may be further edited by our staff, and its publication is subject to our final approval.
Unfortunately, our editorial approach may not be able to accommodate all contributions. Our editors will review what you've submitted, and if it meets our criteria, we'll add it to the article.
Please note that our editors may make some formatting changes or correct spelling or grammatical errors, and may also contact you if any clarifications are needed.
Read More on This Topic. Learn More in these related Britannica articles: Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Both used blank verse for their dramatic lyrics, poems that purport to render the accents of real men speaking. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Help us improve this article! Contact our editors with your feedback.
You may find it helpful to search within the site to see how similar or related subjects are covered. Any text you add should be original, not copied from other sources.
At the bottom of the article, feel free to list any sources that support your changes, so that we can fully understand their context. Internet URLs are the best.
Thank You for Your Contribution! There was a problem with your submission. Please try again later. Keep Exploring Britannica Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens, English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian era. Martin Scorsese, American filmmaker known for his harsh, often violent depictions of American culture.
Lord Byron, British Romantic poet and satirist whose poetry and personality captured the imagination….
Robert Browning: Robert Browning, major English poet of the Victorian age, noted for his mastery of dramatic monologue and psychological portraiture. His most noted work was The Ring and the Book (–69), the story of a Roman murder trial in 12 books. The son of a clerk in the Bank of England in London, Browning.
Robert Browning — Genre, Mode, and Style [Victorian Web Home —> Authors —> Robert Browning —> Works —> ] The Long Poetic Narrative; The Dramatic Monologue An Introduction; Three Defining Characteristics of Browning's Dramatic Monologues; Robert Browning Last modified 17 July
Robert Browning’s Style and Popular Poems Browning’s style of writing mainly relies on dramatic monologues, in which the actions, settings, and characters are revealed through their own words. However, this revelation is not done deliberately but inadvertently as the speaker reveals himself and his past actions through images and symbols. Description and explanation of the major themes of Robert Browning’s Poetry. This accessible literary criticism is perfect for anyone faced with Robert Browning’s Poetry essays, papers, tests, exams, or for anyone who needs to create a Robert Browning’s Poetry lesson plan. Browning further illustrated this idea by writing poems that.
A detailed discussion of the writing styles running throughout My Last Duchess My Last Duchess including including point of view, structure, setting, language, and meaning. Robert Browning: Poems study guide contains a biography of poet Robert Browning, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis of h.