Browning gave life to the dramatic monologue and made it a distinctive and memorable poetic form. Browning was fascinated with human behaviour, particularly the darker side of humanity and he believed that the dramatic monologue enabled him to create very powerful masks and ‘tell the truth obliquely’. As we become aware that the characters are wearing masks, the layers of artifice or self-deception is where the real persona exits.
Browning’s poems open the minds of his readers, allowing for exploration and the discovery of the dark side of human nature: in the context of his dramatic monologue, character revelations are discovered.
In Robert Browning’s, My Last Duchess we are introduced to a rich, arrogant and authoritarian Duke of Ferara. Browning immediately establishes the technique apostrophe as the Duke begins to speak to an unseen character about his late wife. The Duke displays feelings of nervousness towards the death of his wife but also speaks in a revengeful and controlling tone. In comparison to the Duke is a young man who is tormented by an elderly man’s light blue eye in the short story ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ by Edger Allan Poe. Both main characters share personality flaws of the need for control over others and the lust for power and authority. Edger Allan Poe and Robert Browning demonstrate the use of an emerging theme in the Victorian era, ‘Goth’. This theme creates an externalisation of the composer’s characters, revealing their deepest passions and fears and the hunger for triumph of evil over good. Browning and Poe share the same love for the dark side of human nature and use the gothic theme to inject personality traits of insanity and madness into their characters. In the first sentence of ‘Tell Tale Heart’, the young man admits to being dreadfully nervous and asks us ‘but why would you think I’m mad?’ This immediately plants ideas of insanity and irrationalism in Poe’s character. Poe uses pathetic fallacy as a metonym as he speaks...
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