Robert Browning’s contribution in English Literature
Shatabdi Chakraborty
Language & Literature Mentor

The death of George IV in 1830, more precisely the death of Walter Scott in 1832 and Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne in 1837 conveniently marked the end of an epoch and beginning of a new era known significantly as the Victorian era (1832-1900) in the history of English literature. The Victorian era poets if grouped round to central figures, one of these could be Robert Browning (1812-1889) and the other Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) .

Browning’s works fall roughly into three periods: Pauline (1833), Paracelsus (1835), Sodello (1840) belong to the first period. Pauline is a self confessional monologue, Paracelsus deals with man’s unquestionable thirst for knowledge and Sodello upholds the spirit of the Renaissance.

Browning’s maturer poem published at Italy and that includes Dramatic Lyrics (1846), Dramatic Romance (1848), Men and Women (1855), Dramatic Personae (1864), The Ring and the Book (1868). The Dramatic Lyrics has such remarkable poems as ‘Evelyn Hope’, ‘Porphyria’s lover’, ‘My Last Duchess’, ‘The Pied Piper of Hamlin’ etc; The Dramatic Romance include some beautiful poems like The Lost Leader, How they Brought the Good News etc. In this Dramatic Lyrics Browning found the innovative literary form-the dramatic monologue. Dramatic monologue is actually a one man’s speech, almost like Soliloquy in a dramatic situation where the speaker entails a second person. Browning’s Men and Women consists purely of dramatic monologue such as Fra Lippo Lippi, Andrea Del Sarto, Rabbi Ben Ezra, Abt Voglar etc. The Ring and the Book, Browning’s masterpiece in the 3rd phase is a concerted work of imagination that may be said to constitute Browning’s crowning achievement.

Browning also wrote some 11 dramas like Stafford, Pippa Passes, A Blot in Scutchian, In The Balcony, A Soul’s Tragedy. But as a playwright Bowning could not be successful. Infact Browning’s poetry reveals him more as dramatic thinker than as a dramatic creator – his is not the drama of outer world of events but of the inner world of thoughts and ideas.
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