Browning's Poems of Faith and Doubt

Roy, Sushmita (1985) Browning's Poems of Faith and Doubt. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The subject of my thesis being 'Browning's Poems of Faith and Doubt' I have limited my study to those poems that deal directly with the theme of religious doubt and uncertainty. I have divided the study into six chapters. The first chapter deals with the Victorian Age and the multiple forces within it that gave rise to the sense of religious doubt. The remaining chapters are devoted to the poems dealing with matters of faith and unbelief, commencing with Christmas-Eve and Easter-Pay (1850) and concluding with Asolando: Fancies and Facts (1889). My endeavour has been to trace the theme of faith in the poems and to relate it to the development of the poet's personal belief. Chapter I deals with the conflicting forces acting on the different spheres of life-moral, political and social, and the effect of these forces upon the minds of Victorian poets. Chapter II takes up the problem concerning faith in some detail, the poem under discussion being Christmas-Eve and Easter-Day. Chapter III traces the line of development of Browning's faith by examining the monologues from Men and Women (1855) and Dramatis Personae (1864). In Chapter IV, The Ring and the Book (1868-9), my approach has been an examination of truth, partial truth and deviation from truth in the separate monologues, and to relate the entire poem to Browning's religious convictions. Chapter V deals with the poems written after 1870. Red Cotton Night-Cap Country, La Saisiaz, Ferishtah's Fancies and Parleyings with Certain People of Importance in Their Bay have consequently been discussed under the heading 'Browning's Later Poetry'. Chapter V concludes with Parleyings with Certain People of Importance in Their Day. Chapter VI deals with Asolando; Fancies and Facts (1889). In this chapter I have traced the final thoughts of Browning regarding (a) the nature of truth, (b) the nature of the next world and of the consequences that follow when a certainty of eternal life is provided to man. The poems on which attention has been centred are the Prologue, Dubiety, Rephan, Development, Reverie and the Epilogue. Dubiety deals with the necessity of doubt, Rephan and Reverie concern the problem of whether there is, or is not, an existence after death, Development deals with Browning's personal experience. The title 'Reverie' and stanza seven of the poem in particular suggest that Browning is recording his own thoughts in this poem. Consequently, I have traced a parallel between the ideas presented in the poem and the poet's personal hopes and speculations. Once more, the emphasis has fallen on the most human of all virtues---love. In the Asolando volume, Browning continues his quest, trusting to his personal convictions which in turn are based upon his capacity to love. My aim has been to show that, to Browning, life is a process of continuous growth and, consequently, the efficacy of an eternal life would remain incomplete unless the strivings were continued in the life to come. Seen thus, the Epilogue does not proclaim a final solution, but offers a set of hopeful assumptions founded on Browning's personal experiences. No simple answer has been found and the question of 'Doubt and Faith' remains open.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: British & Irish literature
Date of Award: 1985
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1985-76555
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 14:10
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 14:10
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/76555

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