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Write the summary, by stanza, of the poem "A Light Woman" by the poet Robert Browning.

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sanjuktabose | Student, Grade 11 | Salutatorian

Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:44 PM via web

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Write the summary, by stanza, of the poem "A Light Woman" by the poet Robert Browning.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 2, 2012 at 5:09 PM (Answer #1)

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A dramatic monologue addressed by the speaker to Browning himself, "A Light Woman" is about loyalty and friendship. 

And, Robert Browning, you writer of plays,
Here's a subject made to your hand!

In the first two stanzas, the speaker asks who deserves the most pity among the three of them (he, his friend, and his friend's mistress) and then describes how his friend has fallen for a woman. In the third stanza, the speaker says it is a shame that his friend is just one of many lovers this woman has taken, clearly indicating that the woman is loose or "light." 

In the fourth stanza, the speaker compares himself to an eagle and his friend to a wren. He claims that he can prove to his friend that the woman prefers a more aggressive man. In stanzas five and six, the speaker "takes" the woman before his friend can. He notices that whomever he's talking to is disgusted at this act. "You look away and your lip is curled?"

His friend looks at him like he is a monster (basilisk), having stolen his mistress from him. The speaker supposes that his friend thinks of him as a thief. Even if the speaker is in love with this woman, he should be able to control his emotions and be loyal to his friend. 

In stanzas nine and ten, he compares the womanto a pear. She was metaphoeically (as a pear) quenching "a dozen blue-flies' thirst." Yet he will just cast her off.

And I,---what I seem to my friend, you see:
What I soon shall seem to his love, you guess:

In stanza eleven, he admits he is "no hero." In the next stanza, the speaker admits to "playing with souls" but suggests he did it to save his friend from playing with fire for "bits of stone." This means that his friend was bound to get hurt. 

Tis an awkward thing to play with souls, ...
Yet think of my friend, and the burning coals

In the thirteenth stanza, the speaker notes that the woman is "light." She treats physical attachment as a game. In "saving" his friend from this "light" woman, the speaker expects to be exposing "truth," yet knows she can accuse hiom equally of doing harm.

One likes to show the truth for the truth;
That the woman was light is very true:
But suppose she says,---Never mind that youth!
What wrong have I done to you?

The final stanza returns to "Robert Browning, you writer of plays," and shows the narrative is being told to Browning so that he might turn it to one of his dramatic monologue "plays."

And, Robert Browning, you writer of plays,
Here's a subject made to your hand!

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