Explain the features of “Dramatic Monologue” with reference to “A Grammarian’s Funeral” by Robert Browning

Explain the features of “Dramatic Monologue” with reference to “A Grammarian’s Funeral” by Robert Browning

1 Answer

  1. A Grammarian’s Funeral written by Robert Browning is a dramatic monologue i.e. a kind of poem in which only a single person speaks while all others remain passive listeners and do not say any word. The story always begins at a critical stage. In the poem, the story begins with the death of the Grammarian whose corpse is being taken to the mountain for burial.

    In the poem, the speaker is a disciple of the grammarian and while moving to the mountains keep telling about his life and how he dedicated himself to studying. He gave up all the joys of life and did not go after short-term money. He believed that he should learn and then enjoy life after death.

    The narrator (disciple) keeps telling how he was a man of high thinking and had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. The disciple then compares his master with people having low thinking.

    Though the disciple keeps telling the good things about his master, he reveals how the grammarian ruined his life because of excessive reading. He lost his youth quickly and was attacked by all types of diseases. However, he still did not give up reading and kept acquiring knowledge till his last breath.

    On the way, the disciple keeps giving instructions to his fellows which keeps us in touch with what is happening physically. The funeral finally reached the top of the mountain where they want to bury the grammarian. He utters final words in the praise of grammarian and along with others go back.

    Note that, this poem as a dramatic monologue throws light on the character and thinking of the grammarian as well as that of the disciple himself.

    This poem is quite ironic because though the grammarian is a hero for disciples, the poet seems to be criticizing him for wasting his life. Through the words of the disciple, the poet reveals how the grammarian ruined his life and missed the joys of youth. He could not enjoy the taste of life and the art of God. He did not do anything for society. He learned for himself and died with it.

    It did not yield any fruit. In the end, he was taken by his disciples for burial (again an ironic situation).

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