Achievement of Self-Expression Through Concealment in Dramatic Monologue

2754 Words Mar 27th, 2013 12 Pages
How does the dramatic monologue achieve self expression through concealment? Discuss with reference to any three Browning poems.
When discussing the poetic form of dramatic monologue it is rare that it is not associated with and its usage attributed to the poet Robert Browning. Robert Browning has been considered the master of the dramatic monologue. Although some critics are sceptical of his invention of the form, for dramatic monologue is evidenced in poetry preceding Browning, it is believed that his extensive and varied use of the dramatic monologue has significantly contributed to the form and has had an enormous impact on modern poetry. "The dramatic monologues of Robert Browning represent the most significant use of the form in
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Thus dramatic monologue facilitates partial treatment of memory- the choice of the mode of a dramatic monologue is a single thing that is always handled or is in the agency of the poet.
The Duke uses his speech as an instrument of power, for it is through his speech that he imparts whatever information he seeks to disclose to both the listener as well as the reader. He adopts a conversational, polite style that draws upon the listener’s confidence even as it manipulates him. At times, the Duke anticipates a question asked by the listener, which he then proceeds to answer with elaborate care. It is a clever device used to ‘silence’ the speaker, even as it exploits the form of dialogue while retaining the advantages of a monologue.
The silent presence of the Duchess with her personal value system that the Duke failed to change is a reminder of what lies outside his self. Need to confess the self, is not embedded in the inexplicable. In a sense, he is obsessed with her ‘otherness’, which he seeks to absorb within his self. But even in her death she eludes him.
The poem opens itself to include both the listener as well the reader. We realise that a great deal of the ‘truth’ of what the Duke is saying is dependent on his ability to ‘convince’ the listener and the reader. Like Robert Langbaum observes in his essay The Dramatic Element: Truth as Perspective: “The speaker of a dramatic monologue starts with an established point of view,

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