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Robert Browning: Poetic Speaker in Dramatic Monologues

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Robert Browning: Poetic Speaker in Dramatic Monologues

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  • November 8, 2012
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Robert Browning’s use of the poetic speaker in dramatic monologues allows him to objectively create a dramatic situation while removing himself as a personality from the poem. This is accompished through a process called double masking, in addition to the primary creation of the character or speaker, there exists a secondary creation, a mask which the speaker uses in dealing with the dramatic situation at hand (Garratt 116). The nature of the poetic speaker in Browning’s dramatic monologue demonstrates an authentic replication of human nature in the art of deception. His creation of a character playing a character within a story for personal gain is analagous to human survival in our society today. As human beings we know how to adapt to our surroundings. We know that how we act and speak affects how others percieve us. We also know that we can use this to our advantage in certain situations. As people we don’t always show our true emotions because it leaves us vulnerable, often times we mask these emotions in an attempt to present ourselves in a way that will help us to reach a goal. This goal can be anything from forming a friendship to getting a job. In the case of the Duke in Browning’s; My Last Duchess, the goal is to obtain the approval of marriage. In his quest for approval the Duke puts on a display of power and control in an effort to mask his true emotions, which were brought out by his last duchess. The Duke did not know how to control the free spirit of his last duchess for she enjoyed attention that she received from other men. This inability to control the looks and smiles of his last duchess made him vulnerable to betrayal and left him with nothing left to cover his true emotions. He tells the listener, an agent for the courting of his next duchess, the story of his last duchess. He plays the part of a controlling husband who was displeased with the happy and flirtatious nature of his late duchess. He talks of how her wandering looks and generous...