Robert Browning: Poems

How does Browning present images about love in Women and Roses? 12th Grade

Women and Roses by Robert Browning explores the idea of dreams concerning love, in particular sexual love. The speaker imagines the three women of time as roses: the past, present, and future. Though this poem appeared within the repressive Victorian era, through the allusions and dream visions Browning manages to explicitly develop the sexual fantasies that would have been plausible in his time.

Browning depicts love as personal. He begins with the stark —“I dream of a red-rose tree”— which, through the personal pronoun, portrays love as a private, liberating experience, and by ending with another first person pronoun —“to me”—emphasizes the exclusivity of love. However, this tone easily becomes possessive when Browning explores the preservation of women in art —“sculptured in stone.” Though preservation has advantageous connotations, the act of containment implies objectification. This is further explored in My Last Duchess as the Duke says that “none puts back the curtain here but I” to suggest complete possession; not only did the Duke possess the Duchess when she was live, but he even owns her portrait now she’s dead. At the end of the poem, the speaker says that “I will make an Eve, be the artist that began her” which...

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