Browning- Apparent Failure Essay

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Lucy Berry, English essay “Apparent Failure” “So killed themselves: and now, enthroned Each on his copper couch, they lay” Discuss the ways in which Browning presents life and death in this poem. In your answer, explore the effects of language, imagery and verse form, and consider how this poem relates to other poems by Browning that you have studied. In the poem “Apparent Failure”, Browning presents death in an inhumane, animalistic way due to the Morgue being an old slaughter house. He contrasts life and death to display his anger at the status afforded to death (which weren’t offered in life). This experience shocked Browning but also taught him to avoid this kind of death. Firstly, Browning uses juxtaposition in “Apparent Failure” to amplify the differences in quality of life. This is shown by “So killed themselves: and now, enthroned Each on his copper couch, they lay”. As we see in the quotation, life is brusquely handled, whilst in death their position is raised as they are “enthroned”. The added use of “they” ultimately shows the loss or lack of identity held by these men in life or death. In addition, the regular rhyme scheme in the poem portrays the ongoing harshness and bitterness that Browning feels towards the display. Enjambment blurs the evenly spaced content which furthermore shows that Browning is confused about why brutality was allowed and continued to happen. In the sixth stanza, Browning puzzles over the causes of suicide: disillusioned idealism, the world’s cruelty, money and women. This is shown by “Money gets women, cards and dice Get money, and ill luck gets just The copper couch…”. The tense change in the poem (“just”) shows that Browning was unsure of who to blame for this coldness and insensitivity. Additionally, the repetition of the phrase “copper couch” magnifies the resentment that Browning displays towards the Morgue; this
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