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The Dramatic Monologues Of Browning And Tennyson

Capture The Mood And Personality Of The Characters. One Can Imagine The Speakers Repeating Their Points Of View Time After Time. Do You Agree? Essay, Research Paper

English Literature – The Dramatic Monologues of Robert Browning

and Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Of the monologues I will be analysing, I feel some capture the mood and personality of the main characters better than others do. Often, a particular mood will be carried on throughout the monologue, making it obvious to the reader of the character’s traits. It is very much dependant on how well the writer provides us with a clear persona, whether it be an arrogant character or a pathetic one. Of course, being monologues, we are presented with four very biased accounts of events.

I agree with the idea that Browning and Tennyson capture the mood and personality of the characters, however, I feel they achieve this in some monologues better than in others.

Each monologue essentially, tries to grasp a mood that is representative of the speaker. ‘Andrea Del Sarto by Browning is a monologue, which I feel captures the mood of the speaker very well. We are given clear evidence of his pathetic personality. It deals with a man who is superior as an artist, but feels he is inferior as a man. He is jealous of others that are able to combine art with a happy life, with the love of a woman. These are the main moods expressed in this monologue, also by Robert Browning. It is clear that Andrea is jealous of others and by the end of the poem, we feel he is pathetic and ridiculous.

We are given bits of evidence that suggest his wife, Lucrezia, is having an affair – My everybody s moon,/Which everybody looks on and calls his. It is clear from the beginning that Andrea knows full well that his wife sleeps around and lies. He also says things such as Tomorrow satisfy your friend , which make him appear so unbelievably pathetic.

Del Sarto actually wants very simple things out of his life. He is regarded as a fantastic painter and he knows he is, however he feels his paintings do not carry soul, because he has not the love of his wife – which is all he actually wants. And thus we half-men struggle , explains clearly that he feels incomplete without her love. He certainly blames his wife for not having achieved his full potential. The entire monologue has a depressed mood to it. It is very obvious he is unhappy with his situation, and so from the things he asks of his wife, his personality gives itself away. He seems pathetic and even past pitiable. We come away from this monologue blaming nobody but Andrea and feeling no sympathy for him whatsoever.

Whilst reading ‘Andrea Del Sarto’, it is very easy to imagine him repeating his feeling again and again. There is a feeling of repetition throughout the monologue. It seems as though it is all their relationship exists of, him getting a few minutes with his wife to explain to her how he feels, once again, and the her leaving him to perhaps visit her lover. It is clear that Andrea is upset about the choices he has made, and wants so desperately to get his wife to understand how he is feeling, making him talk to his wife about the same thing any time he gets a chance.

The repetitive nature of the speaker in Andrea is almost mirrored in ‘Tithonus’, which although is by a different writer – Tennyson, is very similar in terms of hopelessness and desperation.

Tithonus deals with a Trojan Prince who is beloved by the goddess of dawn – Aurora. As she was immortal, but he wasn t, she begs Zeus to grant him immortal life, forgetting to ask for immortal youth to go with it. This proves to be a big problem for Tithonus for the obvious reasons. Although he will never die, with every day that passes, he will become weaker, frailer.

The entire monologue has a miserable mood to it, and we can tell from the beginning of the poem that Tithonus is extremely unhappy, using the word decay twice in one line. Continuing with this morbid mood, we are subject to more death, dies the swan or the woods decay and fall . It is clear that although Tithonus has this gift of immortality, he feels a prisoner in its grasp. He describes himself as a white-haired shadow , so we are able to deduce that he is getting older. He feels he is roaming like a dream , giving us the impression that he doesn t feel like he is within the bounds of reality, and he can t control what is happening, as he is incapable of actual action.

The irony of the situation is great, as Aurora is reborn every day, whereas Tithonus is getting older with each day. He has to watch this taking place every day, and we can imagine how painful it must be for him to go through this.

Tithonus is just as pitiful as Tithonus, however, we feel more for Tithonus because he has no choice about his situation. There is absolutely nothing in his power he can do to better the predicament he is in.

Also, with this monologue, we know for a fact, just as we did with ‘Andrea Del Sarto’, that Tithonus discusses his miserable existence relentlessly. It is almost like a prayer that he starts the day off with, never letting himself forget about his situation, however, we can understand the repetition as we know this daily monologue is all he has left.

Looking at a different monologue by Browning, we are able to see that although ‘My Last Duchess’ and ‘Andrea Del Sarto’ share a writer, there are points which are dissimilar.

The monologue deals with a duke, showing a painting of his late wife to a convoy. Browning makes it clear that the duke was displeased with her behaviour and also makes very clear the duke’s personality. His arrogance and proud nature are apparent quickly and easily whilst reading through the monologue.

As the duke reflectively studies the painting he recalls the way his late wife received flattery and compliments very well and had A heart too soon made glad and felt she was too easily impressed. The duke suggests that she had a wandering eye, She looked on, and her looks went everyone. This may have made the duke jealous, which also adds to his personality. While giving us strong, vivid impressions of the duchess, Browning himself paints a clear picture of the duke’s flippancy towards life itself. He tells us that she put My gift of a nine hundred year old name in the same category as any other gift, making it clear that he had a very good and old reputation. He felt that simply because of the fact that he married her and gave her his name, she should have more respect for him. He asks Who d stoop to blame/This sort of trifling? So with this statement, Browning has shown us that the duke was someone who held a lot of pride in the fact that he d never lower himself or compromise. He tells the convoy I choose/Never to stoop. Unwilling to compromise, and showing his arrogance, he believed people should simply know what he s thinking.

We are given a true indication that the duke had his wife murdered when he professes, This grew; I gave commands;/Then all smiles stooped together. This line comes as a shock, because up until now, the poem has simply been about reflection.

Then all of a sudden, we are given an unambiguous admission of murder. Not only is he admitting that he has had his last wife murdered, but also he is admitting it to the person who will be arranging the duke s next marriage. The fact that the situation is so ridiculous makes you almost question the duke s sanity.

As they walk off to meet their company, the duke points out other works of art along the way, suggesting that his new wife will simply become another painting on the wall – another work of art. The duke s personality comes shining through in this monologue – his arrogance and egotistical nature is clear. The mood of the poem seems light hearted at first, but once we are made aware of the fact that he has had his last wife killed, we begin to wonder whether he is crazy. The entire situation is so far fetched, and because we don t feel the reason for killing her was one of much credibility, I found the duke s character almost laughable.

It is easy to imagine the duke in My Last Duchess repeating himself, because it is easy to imagine him in the same situation again. He had his last wife killed for such a ludicrous reason, that I don t feel it is beyond him to kill for an equally ludicrous reason again. However, I don’t feel he would repeat these ideas on such a regular basis, as say Tithonus would.

In his dramatic monologue Ulysses , Alfred Lord Tennyson deals with a very different type of personality and mood. Ulysses is a restless seaman who expresses his discontent with his current condition He calls himself and ‘idle king,’ and does not believe there to be any use for him at home. This sets the mood for the rest of the poem, alerting the reader of the adventurous spirit of Ulysses, and his dissatisfaction with remaining at home. He starts explaining his restlessness by telling his crew I cannot rest from travel giving us a great insight as to the kind of person he is. We can already assume that he has a desire to live life to the fullest, claiming he will drink/Life to the lees. In spite of all the things he has experienced, he seems fascinated with the things he has not experienced. The more he learns and discovers the greater his desire to learn more. He is distressed because he feels he should make the most of every moment he has left. He longs to pursue knowledge ‘beyond the utmost bound of human thought.” Through this, Tennyson has explicitly expressed to the reader what Ulysses is thinking and feeling.

It is very clear that the mood of the poem is a balance between distressful of what he has, and longing, and excitement towards what he may see and experience. He makes it perfectly clear that he has a hungry heart , always wanting more action, and feels he is the man he is because of his travels – I am part of all that I have met. He also declares that he will pursue death. Although full of life, Ulysses seems to welcome death with open arms, wanting to embrace death in his own way. He realises he has not much time left before death will come for him anyway, so he wants to go out on one final adventure before nature runs its course and kills him off.

Tennyson gives Ulysses sufficient charisma to keep him in the readers’ good graces. He speaks with such confidence and eloquence in describing his past achievements and adventures that the reader is almost as convinced of his superiority as he is himself. More significant are Ulysses redemptive qualities, his courage and lack of cynicism for instance. He may be old and unhappy in his present situation, but the, genuine faith he has in his dream prevents anyone else from questioning its validity.

Ulysses admits that they are not as strong as they were when they were young. However, only their physical strength has deteriorated, as they are still strong in will .

Nearing the end of the monologue, we are swept away by the confident, dramatic lines. Come, my friends,/ Tis not too late to seek a newer world. This open invitation to almost join Ulysses on his great adventure leave us feeling inspired and strong, thus leaving a bond between reader and speaker. It is almost as if he has brought out the hero in us all with his charismatic personality, and confident words.

Tennyson captures the mood of the monologue perfectly in his last four lines. An admission of his age, but also an inspiring confident, approach to the rest of Ulysses life.

Ulysses admits that We are not now that strength which in old days/Moved earth and heaven but also explains that which we are, we are. He realises they have been Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will/To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. This final line is so powerful, that even if it were standing its on, the reader would be given a clear indication of his personality. It is everything he stands, everything he believes in.

Although Ulysses and Tithonus are not polar opposites, they aren t exactly the same either. It is a case of imperfect immortality and imperfect mortality – neither can win. Tithonus does not want his immortality, and although Ulysses has his life, he does not want it either, but doesn t mind taking advantage of the time he has left. Whereas Ulysses has a confident and almost persuasive personality, Tithonus is always moaning. Although they are both depressed with their current situations, Ulysses can change his, whereas Tithonus can do nothing but accept the way it is.

Ulysses may be the one exception to the idea that all the main characters will repeat themselves over and over. Because of his nature, I feel if he was to get his way, he d stop talking about it immediately, and go out on that final battle, however, I feel if he were to be rejected by his crew, he may go on about the issue all the time. It is basically dependant on the success of his speech.

Ultimately, it is clear, as with most monologues that the speakers speak to understand something about themselves, to pursue their own life s meaning. Repeating themselves, may simply be a way of searching for an answer and understanding themselves and their situation better. However, having said this, by the end of the four monologues I have studied, nothing has changed, nothing has been resolved. Andrea Del Sarto is still as pathetic, Tithonus will never be put out of his misery, the duke is just as arrogant and Ulysses is still trying to persuade his crew to die for adventure.