Robert Browning: Poems
Tortured Knights: Eliot, Byron, and Browning
Though they come from the shores of different eras and the minds of different authors, the protagonists of Byron’s “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” Browning’s “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,” and T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” are all knights in their own way. One can go even further: they are, basically, all the very same man. Childe Harold and the Byron narrator, Childe Roland, and J. Alfred Prufrock are all tortured men on a kind of a search; they are each of them haunted by thoughts of their past. Their goals overlap and blend with one another; each man finds himself hopeless, facing his own doubt, and he seeks a relief that he doesn’t believe in. And though their methods are admittedly different, each one of them ultimately self-destructs. Within the context of their respective eras, each hero ends up at a tragic dead-end; these poems capture the moments before they attain it, caught up in small seconds that reach towards an ending. “In a minute there is time,” says Prufrock, “For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse” (47-8). His “love song” spans the minutes he’s too scared to undo. Childe Harold wanders sadly forth and keeps no track of time; and Childe Roland is left standing,...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 1126 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 8645 literature essays, 2331 sample college application essays, 378 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in