Karshish by Robert Browning

Topics: Civilization, Robert Browning, Dramatic monologue Pages: 3 (931 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Robert Browning's "An Epistle Containing the Strange Medical Experience of Karshish, the Arab Physician" is a dramatic monologue in which Karshish writes to Abib about his experiencing the miracle of Jesus, when he raises Lazarus from the dead. "Karshish" is a dramatic monologue containing most of the tenets of Browning.

Although "Karshish" is in the form of a letter, it is still an excellent example of a dramatic monologue. There is a speaker, Karshish, who is not the poet. There is a silent audience, Abib the reader of the letter. There is a mental exchange between the speaker and the audience: Karshish writes as if Abib were right in front of him listening to everything. This can be seen in the hang between "here I end" and "yet stay;" it is as if Abib were getting up to leave (61-2). There is a distinct critical moment, when Karshish decides to write about his original concern: "Yet stay. . . I half resolve to tell thee, yet I blush/ What set me off a-writing first of all" (62, 65-6). "Karshish" has all the basics to a dramatic monologue. It also contains a character study in which the speaker speaks from an extraordinary perspective. Karshish is a humble doctor from one of the most civilized nations of the time, he has seen most of the civilized world, and he is still amazed by the miracle that he witnessed. His amazement after having seen many great things in the world proves to the audience that this event was indeed spectacular and significant. In the non-Christian world, the most common response is to doubt and to reject, but because of the conviction of the speaker the audience believe that the miracle did happen. This contrast between doubt and believe creates the dramatic tension of the work. Thus, "Karshish" contains the character study and dramatic tension which make the work a dramatic monologue.

"Karshish" contains many of the tenets of Browning. One of first tenets noticed is the idea that physical success in this life does not correspond...
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