Which characteristics make the poem “The Patriot” by Robert Browning a dramatic monologue?
A dramatic monologue is a narrative poem in which a single speaker (who is not the poet) speaks, often revealing the speaker’s character traits and motives in relation to the situation. In most dramatic monologues there is also a silent listener who doesn’t directly speak but we know of his/her presence through the single speaker.
Now, Robert Browning’s poem “The Patriot” has almost all the elements of a dramatic monologue. The poem is narrated in the first person from the patriot’s perspectives. Here the speaker narrates his tale to the readers as he has been taken to the scaffold to be executed publicly for his ‘misdeeds’.
He tells us of his situation: how he was once well loved by everyone, and how he is now despised by the same people. The patriot believes that he is innocent of having done any misdeeds, and it is only out of the misunderstanding of the people that he is being put to death. His death sentence is for the wrong reason, and he will get justice in heaven where God should repay him. Thus the poem also reveals the speaker’s attitude and motive in the particular situation of life he is in. The only thing missing is the listener. Still, ‘The Patriot’ qualifies as a dramatic monologue in its form.