Robert Browning’s Poetry

by: Robert Browning

Suggested Essay Topics

Writing help Suggested Essay Topics

1. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the dramatic monologue form. What kinds of subject matter does it best address? What kinds does it address less aptly? What is the relationship between drama and poetry?

2. Describe the relationship between morality and art in Browning’s poetry. What does Browning have to say about the subject? How do his poems work in this regard?

3. Why does Browning so often choose painters as the speakers for his monologues? Why not choose poets?

4. How do Browning’s dramatic monologues change over the course of his career? Compare an early poem like “Porphyria’s Lover” to a later one like “Andrea del Sarto” or “Fra Lippo Lippi” in terms of subject matter, structure, and language.

5. What is Browning’s relationship to the ideals of Romanticism? Consider his use of nature and also his conception of the poet, of the self, and of memory.

6. Why are most of Browning’s poems set well after the main action they describe? For example, in “Porphyria’s Lover” the speaker tells of how he murdered Porphyria while he sits beside her corpse, “Andrea del Sarto” is set in the twilight of Andrea’s career, long after the events he describes (his theft from the King of France and his escape back to Italy). Why not set the poem at the time of action? Why make the poem a musing memory?