What Evidence Can One Use in Interpreting a Dramatic Monologue?

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What Evidence Can One Use in Interpreting a Dramatic Monologue?

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The dramatic monologue is a literary genre, and like all genres it relies upon certain techniques that signal the reader how to read it. Browning, Tennyson, and other authors or use this form use some or all of the following means of helping readers interpret the words of the fictional speaker who is unreliable: • having a character’s actions or own words contradict his assertions (“Porphyria’s Lover”) • appeal to a common morality, belief system, or set of assumptions that authors believe, correctly or not, that they and their readers share (“Porphyria’s Lover,” “My Last Duchess,” Hopkins’s “A Soliloquy of one of the Spies left in the Wilderness”) . • use of epigraphs and allusions that position the poem (Hopkins’s “The Windhover”) • titles (“The Windhover,” “An Epistle Concerning the Strange Medical Experience of Karshish, the Arab Physician””) • placement of poem in a particular section or category in a book (“Porphyria’s Lover” as a “Madhouse Cell”) • a character’s use or misuse of