Robert Browning

Start Free Trial

Student Question

How does Robert Browning's poetry illustrate psychoanalysis?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Psychoanalysis involves understanding the motivations behind our behaviors, especially motivations that are unconscious.

Browning, of course, did not have the advantages of knowing about modern psychoanalysis, but in several of his poems he has the narrator unwittingly reveal aspects of his personality and motivation that he himself is blind to.

For example, in "My Last Duchess," the duke, thinking he is justifying having his last wife killed, actually reveals himself to be an overly controlling and jealous man who could not tolerate the innocent kindnesses his late wife bestowed on the rest of the world. We see—though he himself is not conscious of it—that his wife was innocent and that he himself is a highly disturbed individual.

Likewise, in "Fra Lippo Lippi," the narrator attacks Brother Lippo for his innocent gestures, such as tending to plants, revealing that he, the narrator, is in fact the sick, twisted person.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial