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Since April is National Poetry Month, it seems befitting to present the best of Robert Browning’s dramatic monologues. Although not as famous as his lyrical wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert is highly regarded for his ability to create devious characters within his poems.

When closely read, these complex lines reveal setting, conflict, and above all, characterization. Unlike characters within Shakespearean soliloquies who blatantly reveal their deepest confessions, the speakers within Browning’s monologues reveal their nature in subtler ways.

“My Last Duchess”: This monologue is spoken by a pompous duke who shows off the portrait of his wife, a kind young woman whom he had executed.

“Porphyria's Lover”: This dramatic poem is by far the most disturbing of Browning’s poems. It reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe’s "The Tell Tale Heart.” The main character is clearly insane as he calmly explains how and why he killed the woman who loved him.

“Home Thoughts From Abroad”: This poetic monologue is not as sinister as the others. This one is a sweet, sentimental speech from the point of view of a road-weary traveler who longs to be back home.

Oftentimes, drama students and professional actors instantly reach for their over-used volume of Hamlet when they want to perform a classical monologue. However, Robert Browning’s monologues can provide thespians with dramatic speeches that are classical yet far from old.


May 28, 2012 at 5:18 am
(1) glove man says:

I agree with what your saying , however shakespears hamlet has alot of subtle hints and tricks int as there can be several meanings or slants on the whole of the play. i

September 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm
(2) Lily says:

um…. well is this all of his dramatic monolougues. i could’ve sworn that he did more!!! oh one more thing what is the difference between a monolougue and a poem? are they the same thing?

September 7, 2012 at 2:12 am
(3) plays says:

Hi Lily,

Robert Browning wrote a LOT more dramatic monologues than the three I have posted on the GuideSite. These just happen to be a few of my favorite. Browning actually wrote plays before he focused on poetry. These monologues are stand-alone poems that can be as poetry, or performed as theatrical pieces.

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