These three handouts help combine the poetry of the Brownings—Robert and Elizabeth Barrett—into one study. The handouts function as homework or in-class activities for analyzing respectively the Brownings’ two most famous works—“My Last Duchess” and “Sonnet 43”—and ends with a brief writing assignment combing them together.
Handout one addresses Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess” as a study on word meaning in context and symbolic language. It does not breakdown poetic techniques or structure. Your students should be familiar with rhetorical terminology before completing. Terms analyzed are dramatic lyric, dramatic monologue, speaker, setting, metaphor, symbols, euphemism, metonymy, rhetorical question, synecdoche, paradox, and inference.
Handout two guides students to interpret Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Sonnet 43” by rewriting it into modern language. This handout is challenging, but fun, and yields super-creative (sometimes comical) results. (I would assign this as in-class work so your students can’t access the internet for answers.)
Handout three guides the students in writing a well-composed analysis in one paragraph by combining answers from the previous two handouts. The writing practice is a great tool to use if you struggle with clarifying and exemplifying how to write a tight literary analysis. It is only a paragraph, so it is a quick approach to tackling an analysis both for you and for your students.
Answer keys are included.
Jennifer L. Weaver