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Dark Like Blood


"I am not responsible for the world's misery" (315).
Flannery O'Connor's "The Displaced Person" (1955)


Points of Reflection

EBB: "Bertha in the Lane" (1844), 156-66

1. has the narrator fulfilled the promise made to her dying mother, as she claims (ll.29-42)?

2. the narrator observes at one point that her brain is “wandering” under a fever, though she claims to regain control of her thoughts (ll.57-63).  Do her thoughts appear those of a balanced, tempered mind able to weigh matters objectively?

3. what does male desire appear to be a function of, primarily?

4. is the narrator dying?

5. the Broadview editors note that recent critical opinion is split between those who read the poem as a “lyric portrait of a virtuously self-sacrificing woman” and those who see it as “a dramatic monologue in which ironic character revelation betrays the speaker.”  Which reading is supported more by the evidence of the poem itself?

RB: "Deaf and Dumb: A Group by Woolner" (1864), PDF close attention to the modifiers Browning uses throughout this poem. Why, for instance, does he call white "blank" (l.3) and the mouth "favoured" (l.8)?

2. do you applaud Browning's choice to use a scientific analogy (l.1-3) to make his point about the beauty that can arise from irregularity?

3. whose love is first "vexed," then successful at "wreak[ing] its insuppressive sense" (ll.5-6) across the face?

4. do you agree that the eyes can communicate as much as--even more than--the lips?

5. examine this image of the sculpture referenced in Browning's poem. Is the tone of the poem similar to the tone apparent in the sculpture?

Mannequin (1926-27)
"On Paranoiac Critical Town" (1936)
oil on canvas
Salvador Dalí

Dr. Paul Marchbanks