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How Does Browning Tell the Story in ‘The Patriot’?

Here’s a short essay describing how Browning tells the story in ‘The Patriot’. Enjoy the read and I hope it proves useful and interesting to you!

Remember to never copy any material on the internet such as this when writing your own essay.

The Patriot is a poem about a man who has been a true partisan to his country. Yet, the public misunderstand what he has done and punish him for it. It represents the fragile state of public morale and opinion. Browning tells the story in six stanzas: each with five lines. The first stanza describes the setting of the poem with the opening line being, ‘It was roses, roses, all the way’. These roses could be seen as a metaphor for the love the man had for his country. As well as that, the whole of ‘The Patriot’ can easily be compared to Browning himself. His books and poems never sold as well as his wife’s and others and often received critical opinions. This poem therefore would be a message to the public who rejected his work that they are misunderstanding him and his work.

Browning uses the story of Icarus to describe the ambition of the man in stanza three. This creates a moral of the story not to be too ambitious, like Icarus with flying. The whole of stanza three reflects on what he has done. The man feels he carried out everything he possibly could have which makes his life even more of a travesty, ‘Nought man could do, have I left undone’. However, this is coming from the man himself which is no doubt going to be a biased view. If one of the public was the one talking instead of the man, we might find that the man’s interpretation may have misled us (the reader) to thinking he has done right when in fact, he hasn’t. The man feels he deserves a reward, ‘I reap’, sharing with the reader that he has power. From this, Browning described the man as someone powerful and for the good of mankind, juxtaposing it to what the public thought, creating a sense of unfairness.

The fourth stanza is when we realise that this man is getting executed by hanging. Browning described the people watching the execution as ‘palsied’. Only the old and riddled with disease could be bothered enough to watch the hanging. This contrasts with the importance of the man: a man of power would have many watch his death. It’s all gone wrong as nobody is on the roof tops. Yet, people would congregate at the ‘Shamble’s Gate’, which is where people would go to watch a public hanging. Browning describes the places and the best place to watch a public execution in this stanza being the ‘scaffold’s foot’ to make the reader aware that it is a public execution. This is the point in the story where the reader is hit with shock. Thus, a man who has done great deeds for his country has been viewed by the public to have carried out misdeeds: bad enough to get hung for. Browning builds up this man to fall. He creates false hope.

Browning then carries on describing how the man has been publicly humiliated. This is important because as much as being hung is the punishment for whatever crimes the man has committed, the humiliation of being hung is just as horrific. It is not a grateful way or heroic way to die. Any dignity the man once had has now been lost. He’s truly gone from potential hero to misinterpreted zero. I feel that Browning has placed this stanza before the last stanza where he does die to make it clear that the best thing is for the man to die now. The fifth stanza makes aware he has lost everything in his life. If he wasn’t hung, he wouldn’t be able to do anything with his life: he would be rejected by the public.

Browning makes the last stanza when he dies sound very positive following on from the last stanza of humiliation to the man. This makes dying sound the best option for the man. Browning very much relates to God in his last stanza just like many poems from Browning’s time did, ‘I’m safer so’. Even though the world thinks he has done wrong, the man knows he has done right and will go to heaven. It also fits in with Browning that he would rather be out of the world where it will be more peaceful than to stay in this corrupted world.



  1. Anonymous June 28, 2012
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