Typical Ib A1 Hl English Exam Question Essay

2279 Words Dec 29th, 2010 10 Pages
With specific reference to two or three works you have read compare the effects of an identified or unidentified narrative voice.

The use of both identified and unidentified narrative voices has been an essential feature in most of the poetry I have studied, as it determines the manner in which the content of the poem is presented. Poets will often use an identified persona to express views which they themselves might disagree with in a negative light, such as in My Last Duchess by Robert Browning. Unidentified personas are often used by poets as well; perhaps to give a more universal application to their poems. Conversely identified personas may understandably be used for the opposite effect of giving the poem a personal and intimate
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In The Bishop Orders his Tomb at Saint Praxed’s Church the persona is the central focus in the dramatic monologue. The bishop’s characteristics are portrayed throughout the poem which mostly reveals utterly unchristian aspects of his personality. Although much of the poem is humorously ironic it also serves to depict the way in which men who are presumed to be respectable and have high ranking positions on the social strata of society can have quite corrupted personalities. In the very first line of the poem the bishop refers to the Ecclesiastes with “Vanity, saith the preacher Vanity!” This is very ironic indeed if we consider the personality of the bishop who is extremely materialistic and throughout the whole span of Browning’s poem concerns himself with securing a tomb made from the finest stones and materials, out of his own vanity, vindictiveness and spite for the other clergyman named Gandolf who snatch[ed] the bishop’s resting spot or “niche” “from out the corner south.” Browning also accentuates the bishop’s begrudging and unforgiving nature with the bishop’s comically snide remark about Gandolf “grace[ing] his carrion” with the “niche” in the southern corner of the church. This begrudging temperament is further emphasized with the disdainful and rivalling comments made frequently and almost obsessively about Gandolf throughout the rest of the poem.

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