In the poems of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, some could construe the speakers as dominant and masculine. However, while there is a sense of masculinity within the poems, the speaker in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem, “Mother and Poet” has a strong sense of being said from a woman’s point of view. While Robert Browning’s works “Porphyria’s Lover” and “My Last Duchess” are from a male perspective.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem “Mother and Poet” has a strong sense of nationalism. During this time in the Victorian Era, Barrett was struggling to express her sympathy for the unification of Italy. The speaker in her poem, the “mother,” is seen as an everyday person. However the speaker is more mature, in the fact that she has children and has lived through the happiness of life and the sadness of death. What is evident throughout the whole work is the speaker has the goal of achieving nationalism. This poem looks at the perspective of the speaker in the past and in the present. As children, teaching her sons the importance of nationalism and that it is okay to die for their country is what is important. Even in the present when her sons have both died fighting for their country, she blames herself for their death and wishes to be content. She feels that because she taught her sons about having a strong sense of nationalism she pushed them into fighting for their country and therefore lost their lives as a result. While teaching her children about nationalism, the consequence of death was always a possibility. That being said, possibility and actuality become two very different things. “When you have your country from mountain to sea/when King Victor has Italy’s crown on his head/(and I have my dead!)-“ (83-85) The speaker wishes to be happy for the victory but the people celebrating know nothing about loss and death like she does. In addition this poem contains more private and intimate emotions because of the relationship between those being discussed. The intimate emotions happen because of the loss of the sons. There is no other relationship that can compare to that of a mother and child. While fathers and children can have a very strong bond, fathers cannot share certain moments like a mother can. For example, carrying a child in their body, childbirth, and breastfeeding are important parts of the relationship. Furthermore a woman could relate the pain of losing their child to the pain of childbirth and breastfeeding, in that it is a pain no other person can experience in the way that they are. “What art is she good at, but hurting her breast/ with the milk-teeth of babes and a smile at the pain?/Ah boys, how you hurt!” (12-14) This stanza shows a true sense of the pain the speaker is suffering from. This poem can be seen from a woman’s point of view more than a male.
Robert Browning’s poetry “My Last Duchess” and “Porphyria’s Lover” is from a male perspective. “Porphyria’s Lover” is a poem explaining the happenings of a romantic and twisted night between two lovers. The woman in the poem is expressing her love for the man. For the man to preserve the moment, he takes the woman’s hair and strangles her.