'the Pied Piper' Is Subtitled a Child's Story. Is It Simply This?

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‘The Pied Piper’ is subtitled a child’s story. Is it simply this? Although Brownings poem is subtitled as ‘a child’s story’, its historical references, sinister events and characterisations suggests that it is far more than this. The events of the poem arguably parallel the real-life occurrences of the Victorian era, and, as such, may not be perceived and understood by children, this implying that it is more than just a child's story. The third stanza of the poem reports the speech of the townspeople who appear to be revolting against their corporation by declaring it’s ‘-shocking/To think we buy gowns of ermine/for dolts that can’t or won’t determine/What’s best to rid us of our vermin’. The structure of line 24 which uses a dash to create a sharp break in the sentence emphasises the people’s frustration that despite their support financially, their leaders are unable or unwilling to actually do their jobs. This could be a comment by Browning on the Victorian government of the time who arguably failed to properly support the people who most need their help. Furthermore, the use of an exclamatory sentence emphasises the extent of the problem and may also suggest the people’s frustration as these inept ‘dolts’ who are failing them. Children may find the idea of the townspeople’s open criticism of the leaders amusing, but would not perhaps relate this to any wider significance whereas an adult reader, even at the time this poem was published, may perceive this significance and even share the frustration of the townspeople, this making the poem as relevant today as in the Victorian decades. Moreover, Browning portrays sinister events throughout ‘The Pied Piper’ suggesting this is more than just a child’s story. The desperation of the townspeople and parents in stanza 14 is at such an intensity that children may not fully understand the grief they are feeling

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