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Published: 09-10-2019

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Hatred in Robert Browning’s Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister

Poetry can typically be described as “painting with words.” It is a poet’s attempt to give linguistic type to thoughts and emotions, to create vivid imagery with only a minimum of language, accomplished by any quantity of creative methods. In the lyric poem “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” the poet Robert Browning makes use of a dramatic monologue to express emotion, such as intense rage and hatred, which is conveyed by the persona of a bitter and spiteful monk. By inventing a fictional character, which acts as the speaker in the lyric poem, and expressing that character’s hatred in a dramatic circumstance, Browning has created a sense of heightened emotion within the poem. An evaluation of Browning’s “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” will allow readers to recognize how the themes, context, kind, and mechanics aid to give the impression of violent hatred felt by that of the speaker.

At 1st glance it appears that Browning’s main purpose in “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” is to present us with the image of a jealous monk who does nothing but complain about a fellow monk by the name of Brother Lawrence. Whilst the mutterings of an ill-tempted monk are in reality very entertaining to read the reader later comes to discover that Browning’s accurate purpose is to show the reader that behind the face of spiritual righteousness lurks the heart of a corrupted and conceited man.

Throughout the poem the speaker accuses Brother Lawrence of several sins, such as greed and lust, but later in the poem it becomes clear to the reader, via the detailed examples of these specific sins, that it is the speaker who is guilty of greed and lust, and not Brother Lawrence. For example, in stanza four the speaker describes to us the scene of two regional women who come daily to the fountain outdoors of the cloister to wash their hair. Right here the speaker uses the phrases, “Steeping tresses in the tank / Blue-black, lustrous, thick like horsehairs” (27-28) to describe the scene at the fountain, and it is evident by the rich detail that it is the speaker, and not Brother Lawrence, who has been searching at the ladies. This assertion is further backed up by lines 30 and 31, where the speaker says, “Can’t I see his dead eye glow / Vibrant as ’twere a Barbary corsair’s?” This simile clearly tells us that the speaker is referring to the stir of passion that he himself has felt upon seeing the girls at the fountain. What tends to make the speaker so intriguing is that as an alternative of admitting his personal guilt the speaker rather projects his personal lust for the females onto Brother Lawrence in the work to make the innocent monk look blameworthy. Browning has allowed the speaker to unintentionally, via his attitude and malicious words, reveal to the reader his corrupt and evil personality.

From the really very first two lines of “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” the object of the speaker’s hatred is revealed. “Gr-r-r—there go, my heart’s abhorrence! / Water your damned flowerpots, do!” The speaker then goes on to list a series of accusations against Brother Lawrence, which range from the way the innocent monk tends to his garden to his enlightened table conversations. Never as soon as does the speaker’s hatred towards Brother Lawrence diminish, but instead it increases with each and every disturbing remark, so considerably so that by the last stanza the speaker is prepared to take the ultimate danger and sell his personal soul to the devil in exchange for Brother Lawrence’s damnation. But what is amusing about this contract with the devil is that the speaker is careful to make an escape clause for himself. “Or, there’s Satan! A single may well venture / Pledge one’s soul to him, but leave / Such a flaw in the indenture / As he’d miss till, past retrieve” (65-68). The irony in these lines is that if any 1 single soul must endure from damnation it is the speaker’s soul. It is the speaker who lusts following the females at the fountain, and it is the speaker who is the owner of the “scrofulous French novel” (57), which he plans to tempt Brother Lawrence with by placing it amongst the monk’s possessions. Lastly, the quite truth that the speaker is the a single who wishes to “trick” the devil implies that it is really apparent that the speaker is the a single who lacks morality, and not Brother Lawrence.

Possibly the most fascinating element about the speaker’s character is the animal-like top quality that he shows all through the poem. He opens and closes the poem with a beast-like sounding “Gr-r-r”, which certainly makes us thinks of him as a wild animal. One more example of the speaker’s carnal nature is the setting of the poem. It is in the monastery garden exactly where the speaker secretly watches Brother Lawrence, who is tending to his plants, considerably like the way a predator would watch its prey. He slinks about in the background, observing and criticizing his enemy, and then vents his hatred out of the earshot of Brother Lawrence. These sorts of actions present clear proof that the speaker has a carnal nature, making the reader question the sanity of this bitter monk.

One more approach utilised in the poem that helps to emphasize the malice the speaker feels is the use of the finish-stopped lines. Alternatively of letting his sentences continue uninterrupted into the next line, Browning utilizes punctuation marks, such as a question mark or an exclamation mark, to develop a break in the speech of the speaker and the structure of the poem. Here is an example of how Browning makes use of the finish-stopped lines in “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister”:

“Oh, those melons? If he’s able

We’re to have a feast! So good!

One goes to the Abbot’s table,

All of us get each and every a slice.

How go on your flowers? None double?

Not one fruit-sort can you spy?

Strange! And I, also, at such trouble,

Maintain them close-nipped on the sly!” (41-48)

Couple of people comprehend that the poem is not just structured in iambic tetrameter, but that every single stanza is also structured as a list of complaints. Stanza by stanza the speaker begins to list every single dislike he holds of Brother Lawrence, and in doing so tries to expose the monk’s immorality by listing every of the sins he has supposedly committed. This variety of structure produced by the speaker brings us to the conclusion that the speaker has lengthy passed the point of becoming merely annoyed with Brother Lawrence, and that the rage he feels towards the innocent monk has been long endured.

Despite all the grammatical structures that aid the speaker to express his anger and aggravation with Brother Lawrence, what sets this poem apart from Browning’s other operates, and also assists to bring a humorous life into the narration of the poem, is the sarcasm utilized by the speaker. The use of sarcasm within the poem gives sturdy presence to the speaker’s ridicule of the poor monk, and also helps to express his utter disgust with Brother Lawrence, or perhaps his disgust with himself. A single cannot aid but smile when the speaker releases a bitter outburst, such as the phrase, “Whew! We’ll have our platter burnished, / Laid with care on our own shelf!” (18-19).

Browning emphasizes the sarcastic tone of the speaker by employing a great deal of punctuation, which strengthens the speaker’s heated tone and the humorous way in which he expresses these malicious words. When the narrator wishes to lash out at Brother Lawrence, Browning makes use of an exclamation mark. “God’s blood, would not mine kill you!” (4), or “Hell dry you up with its flames!” (eight). When the speaker wants to criticize the object of his intense hatred Browning utilizes each a query mark and an exclamation mark to emphasize the emotion the speaker is feeling, and to also heighten the sarcasm in the poem. “What? Your myrtle-bush wants trimming? / Oh, that rose has prior claims / Demands its leaden vase filled brimming?” (five-8) or “How go your flowers? None double? / Not 1 fruit-sort can you spy? / Strange! And I, as well, at such problems, / Maintain them close-nipped on the sly!” (45-48).

Browning’s “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” uses a number of poetic techniques to convey to its audience the rumblings and bitter outbursts of a corrupted monk, who is less holier than the man he despises. Written as a dramatic monologue, “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” is Browning’s attempt to bring the language of hatred to life by employing a cynical persona as his speaker, sarcastic language, and punctuation to emphasize all these robust elements in the poem.
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