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Home » » Browning as a poet of optimism

Robert Browning belongs to the Victorian age of English literature. As a poet he had some distinctive qualities which set him apart in his age. These qualities consist in his unique view on life and a new poetic style. He dealt with a variety of subjects. But it is his inspiring outlook on life that has made his poetry interesting.

In the poem "Andrea del Sarto" we find that a famous Italian painter of the 15th century speaks of his own career as an artist. He is known to be the faultless painter because of the technical excellence of his paintings. Though none can equal Andrea in his technical skill others have an ideal which make their art superior to the art of Andrea. But Andrea is not frustrated. He has a firm belief that even after death God may give him a chance to make up his earthly shortcomings. As he is conscious of the high ideal he may find an opportunity after death to create paintings with a divine inspiration. So his aspiration to be a true artist may remain unfulfilled on earth but may be fulfilled in his life after death. Here again we notice that Browning's main concern is with aspiration and achievement. His message is that a man need not worry if he fails to achieve what he aspired. If his aspiration is noble he weill be judged properly by God. He need not care what people on earth say about his achievements. What is important is the endeavour, not its result. Endeavour should be great. Andrea is guided by the ideal that "a man's reach should exceed his grasp". He says,

          "At the end God, I conclude, compensates, punishes.It's safer for me, if the award be strict".

The rejected lover in " The Last Ride Together " acts as the mouthpiece of Browning. He has failed to win his ladylove, but he does not mind his failure as if it is something better than success. He shares Browning's optimism and says that it is no use regretting for a life which has been ruined: "What need to strive with a life away?" When his beloved finally accedes to his request after a lot of hesitation and careful thought, the lover is overjoyed because his "last thought was at least not vain". The thought of spending one day more in the company of his beloved, breathing and riding together, makes him feel 'deified'. The narrator even entertains the hope that ' the would may end  tonight' in which case his happiness will become eternal as he will forever be with his beloved.

Another example of Browning's optimistic view is " Fra Lippo Lippi". Though the poem starts with the tone of complexity of life, it ends with a happy tone. In the conclusion of the poem is that the world is good because God made it. So, it right to enjoy this world, for God has given it to us.

Browning believed that real human nature manifests itself in strifes and struggles against evil and various odds. The hard facts of life and manifold obstacles to face may weaken a man's spirit. Browning tried to save men from these disheartening facts emboldening men by his optimism.


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