Characters

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Last Updated September 6, 2023.

The Speaker

The unnamed speaker is certainly the main character in this poem. While the speaker of the poem is never named, it is important to note that Browning wrote this poem when he was courting Elizabeth Barrett, who would eventually become his wife. Although we cannot assume that the speaker is Browning, it can be inferred that the characters and the subject were influenced by the context of Browning’s courtship.

In this poem, the speaker is a lover who is willing to go to very great lengths in order to reach his beloved. They are meeting at night—presumably because they want to spend the night together and because they do not wish to be caught. The speaker chronicles his lengthy journey from his own home to the home of his beloved. Of the poem’s twelve lines, eight of them (two-thirds of the poem) describe the speaker’s journey. Two lines focus on the details of his arrival, and only the last two lines describe the actual reunion of the lovers.

The Speaker’s Beloved

The speaker’s unnamed beloved is never described in any detail, though the speaker must feel quite passionately about her if he is compelled to travel such a great distance to reach her. Perhaps his passion for her is the point of the poem rather than the reunion itself. She and he whisper to one another in voices which seem quieter to them than the loud beating of their hearts; they are both excited to see one another. Her passion for him appears to match his for her, and the fact that they are meeting in secret indicates that there might be some impediment to their courtship.

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