The Last Ride Together as a Dramatic Monologue
Explain the poem “The Last Ride Together” by Robert Browning as a dramatic monologue.
“The Last Ride Together” as a Dramatic Monologue
“The Last Ride Together” by Robert Browning is a dramatic monologue that delves into the themes of unrequited love, acceptance, and the pursuit of happiness. Through the voice of a narrator addressing his beloved, Browning explores the complex emotions and desires of a rejected lover. The poem’s structure, language, and use of dramatic monologue showcase Browning’s mastery in capturing the inner workings of the human psyche.
The dramatic monologue form is characterized by a single speaker who reveals their thoughts, emotions, and experiences to an implied or silent audience. In “The Last Ride Together,” the narrator, who is deeply in love with the woman he addresses, passionately expresses his desire to share a final ride with her before accepting his fate. Through this monologue, the narrator reflects on their relationship, contemplates their unfulfilled love, and ultimately finds solace in the act of letting go.
The poem opens with the narrator acknowledging his unrequited love, setting the tone for the exploration of his emotions:
I said—Then, dearest, since ’tis so,
Since now at length my fate I know,
Since nothing all my love avails,
Since all, my life seemed meant for, fails,
Since this was written and needs must be—
My whole heart rises up to bless
Your name in pride and thankfulness!
Take back the hope you gave—I claim
Only a memory of the same,
—And this beside, if you will not blame,
Your leave for one more last ride with me.
The opening lines establish the speaker’s resigned acceptance of his fate and the realization that his love cannot be reciprocated. He acknowledges the failure of his love but still seeks a final opportunity to be with his beloved. Through the use of the first-person narrative, Browning allows readers to delve into the depths of the speaker’s heart and mind, empathizing with his emotional journey.
The poem continues with the narrator’s plea to share one last ride with his beloved, emphasizing his desire to experience a moment of happiness and connection:
Who knows what’s fit for us? Had fate
Proposed bliss here should sublimate
My being—had I signed the bond—
Still one must lead some life beyond,
Have a bliss to die with, dim-descried,
A something to reach, to-ward, to find
… I have loved you, all the while;
Laughed and wept, and hoped:—loved your smile,
—All which, were such love foolishness,
The love still lived in but by guess,
And the foolishness was cherished, no less,
And my soul knew how well it loved
And what love said, of the love improved:
But speech would let it no more move
Than silence does, nor wrong approve.
Here, the speaker ponders the uncertainty of what is truly suitable for them in life. He reflects on the possibility of a fulfilled love, imagining a blissful existence that transcends the mundane. The repetition of “loved” emphasizes the depth of the narrator’s affection and reinforces the unchanging nature of his feelings. Browning masterfully captures the internal conflict within the speaker, contrasting his love’s reality with its potential.
The dramatic monologue form enables Browning to explore the complexity of human emotions and thoughts. As the narrator continues, he contemplates the nature of his love and its impact on his sense of self:
But, for love,—
For life—ay, here’s my life’s bliss!
This could but be, and this would be,
And I thought this, and I loved thee!
But there’s not a woe, shall fall
From this rejected one, for all
… And at worst—why, failure massed
Will scarce be failure; lo, I pass
To claim my share in it!
In these lines, the narrator acknowledges the potential consequences of his unrequited love. He recognizes that rejection does not define his worth or his ability to find happiness. The use of enjambment and fragmented thoughts adds a sense of urgency and intensity to the speaker’s reflections, capturing the tumultuous nature of his emotions.
Throughout the poem, Browning skillfully utilizes the dramatic monologue to give voice to the narrator’s complex range of emotions, thoughts, and desires. The use of first-person narration allows readers to intimately experience the speaker’s journey, creating a sense of empathy and connection. As the poem progresses, the narrator transitions from longing for reciprocated love to finding solace in the act of letting go:
Thus, I ride out alone and die!
What should I care if I be “spent”
On the career, be “crazed” or “bent,”
Nor reck of much but that I went,
Journeying on with you…
These concluding lines reflect the transformation and growth of the narrator. He accepts his fate and realizes that true happiness lies not in the possession of his beloved, but in the shared experiences they had together. The act of riding alone becomes a metaphor for his journey through life, embracing his individuality and finding contentment in his memories.
In “The Last Ride Together,” Browning’s skillful use of the dramatic monologue form allows for an intimate exploration of the narrator’s unrequited love, acceptance, and personal growth. Through the speaker’s impassioned reflections, readers are invited to delve into the complexities of human emotions and the pursuit of happiness. Browning’s poetic technique, combined with the form of the dramatic monologue, creates a compelling and introspective piece that continues to resonate with readers.
Written by Koushik Kumar Kundu
Koushik Kumar Kundu was among the toppers when he completed his Masters from Vidyasagar University after completing his Bachelors degree with Honours in English Literature from The University of Burdwan. He also completed B.Ed from the University of Burdwan.
No Comments Yet