Robert Browning: Poems

Discussion of The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed’s Church, Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister and Confessions 12th Grade

Robert Browning ubiquitous examination of religious authority and its shortcomings becomes apparent within the very title of The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed’s Church. The religious reference to Saint Praxed carries ironic connotations, as whilst Saint Praxed herself was chaste, the monologist subverts his priestly requirements and engages in sexual acts. Therefore Browning here highlights the hypocritical nature of the religious figures of the time. While religious authorities of Browning’s time period espoused values of loving one’s neighbour, both The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed’s Church and Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister deconstruct such doctrines as further evidence of religious duplicity. Ironically referencing his own “Peace”, the Bishop of the former poem exclaims “God curse the same!”. Emphasized by the exclamation mark, the vituperative application of the Catholic deity against the Bishop’s nemesis, Gandolf, is depicted by Browning to demonstrate the disrespect and disregard of supposedly devout figures for the very cornerstones of their faith. In a similar fashion, the narrator of the Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister refers to Brother Lawrence as a “Manichee”, a non-vocative pejorative...

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