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Linking Young Minds Together
 Volume 5 | Issue 33 | August 21, 2011 |


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Robert Browning:
Playing with the Human Mind

Abritty Abdullah

After enrolling in the Department of English at the University of Dhaka (DU), I was certain that Literature was not my cup of tea. I barely understood the great poets and novelists. But as time passed, the fear of Literature faded away and surprisingly enough, it is the only thing I can think about right now. It is true that the use of those medieval languages in the great works of the Metaphysical, Romantic, Victorian make me go crazy sometimes but the ultimate pleasure comes along with poetry when I read Robert Browning. Passion, art, drama, emotions and overall manipulation of the human psyche made Browning the most interesting poet for me. Getting into the deepest, darkest chambers of the human mind and making it think in an unorthodox way is the specialty of Browning's poetry.

Dealing with several different unavoidable psychological facts is what attracts the readers of Browning the most. 'Andrea Del Sarto', one of Browning's most beautifully crafted poems shows an artist's helpless situation throughout his art life, as well as in his love life. The language of this poem is so lively that a timid, frustrated tone grasps the readers and takes them to another world. On the other hand, in 'Porphyria's Lover', obsession takes a new turn towards destruction. 'My Last Dutchess' is another example of extreme use of power to gain peace of mind. Browning's dramatic monologues are undoubtedly a treat to read.

In the poem 'Fra Lippo lippi', Browning depicted the general confusion regarding life and soul, mortality and spirituality and questioning religion as a common psychological state of a confused mind. Written often from a male point of view, the ever dominant picture of medieval male over female counterparts isexpressed extraordinarily in his works. Browning's monologues can be depicted as the major psycho-analysis of fifteenth to eighteenth century's common people. Even though the male voice is quite prominent in Browning's poetry, the different aspects of the female mind do come along -- where the women are sometimes kind, sometimes rigid, sometimes cruel, sometimes loving and sometimes betraying.

Browning draws the line between what a person thinks and what he does. The collaboration of the mind and action in his poems relates him with the modern poets. Great poets like TS Eliot and Ezra Pound were greatly influenced by his monologues. His way of playing with the subconscious mind makes him more modern than any of his other Victorian contemporaries. Though Browning was not greatly celebrated during the Victorian era, he became widely popular amongst the modern poets. He was much ahead of his time in the aspects, dealing with a completely new theme of the human psyche. Today, Browning and his ideas are widely studied. One can hope to find more readers of Browning, who appreciate poetry even amidst their busy lives.


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