Robert Browning: Poems

Aberrance in Two Poems by Robert Browning College

As scholars often note, the Victorian Period was known for its didacticism, especially the struggle between faith and moral decrepitude. Whereas the Romantics idealized their world, the Victorians questioned their surroundings, choosing to politicize their literature so as to be reactionary against the societal norm. Although the polemics of Victorianism were prevalent in poetry, fiction, philosophy, and nonfiction, their influence was never felt more strongly than in the questionable, often satirical morality of Robert Browning’s narrators.

Out of all Victorian poetry, the verse of Robert Browning is most reprimanding against moral conventions. Using historical figures as models for his critiques against the present, Browning mastered the art of the monologue and soliloquy, two styles of poetry especially useful in critiquing the character traits of his contemporaries. Whereas poets like Matthew Arnold or Alfred, Lord Tennyson focused their polemics against ideas—human misery in “Dover Beach” and staid philosophies of living in “Ulysses”—Browning wrote against individual entities and personalities, particularly nobles and clerics. Browning’s indictment against officials in the Anglican Church can be found through the aberrance...

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