Don't miss

The Patriot by Robert Browning Analysis


The Patriot is one of the many poems English A level will have to study. Like with many of Browning's poems, this is a dramatic monologue being that the character is talking to himself in a 'dramatic' way. The poem tells the story of somebody's execution in front of the public: for which he is being misunderstood and should not be killed. It relates very much to the fall of leaders who, like the patriot, are misunderstood and killed because of this. Here is an analysis of Robert Browning's poem, 'The Patriot' which features a step-by-step guide to each stanza.

You might find reading my essay, How Does Browning Tell the Story in The Patriot? helpful too.

The analysis starts in the very title, 'The Patriot'. A patriot is someone who fights/works for their country. They love their country and will do anything for their country too.

Stanza One

The first stanza is used to set the scene of the poem creating contrasting setting. It starts with, 'It was roses, roses, all the way' which are known for being beautiful and a theme of love. However, the stanza describes how the 'house-roofs seemed to heave and sway' which suggest the setting is cramped with houses. This is our first signs of the poem being based in a town where people are living in poverty. This was common in the Victorian times which introduces a time to this poem too unlike alot of Auden's poems such as O What Is That Sound.

Stanza Three

The second stanza hasn't got much analysis from my part (sorry, I'm an A level student myself and using my notes on the poem to write this article!). However, the third stanza does. There is reference to a old tale of Icarus on the first line, 'it was I who leaped at the sun'. Icarus attempted to fly by sticking feathers to his arm with wax. However, the closer he flew to the sun, the more the wax melted until he fell from the sky. Browning uses this story to introduce an ideology to not be too ambitious which unfortunately the patriot was. Throughout the whole of stanza, the patriot is reflecting and thinking . He states, 'Nought man could do, have I left undone'. He feels he done everything he could have possibly done. We gather he also has power, 'what I reap' illustrating how he has collected his rewards in from the work he has done.

Stanza Four

Stanza four looks more at the setting again at how nobody is out to watch the patriot's execution except 'just a palsied few'. 'Palsied' is the term given to the old and riddled with disease. This juxtaposes against what the patriot has achieved in his life. We know he has power which is clearly not reflected with the amount and type of people watching his hanging. The people that are outside are gathering at 'Shambles' Gate' which is a place people would congregate to watch public hangings. The public execution (which another name for it is 'scaffold') is starting to make the patriot lose all dignity. 

Stanza Five

This stanza carries on from where stanza four left off to describe the public humiliation the patriot is undergoing. Pathetic fallacy is used (which was common in Browning's poems such as the start of Porphyria's Lover), 'I go in the rain'. As well as making the patriot wet reducing his dignity, the rain can be seen too symbolise how the patriot is innocent as he is washed clean. As well as this, rain in general represents corruption creating a negative tense mood. This describes the public who are clearly corrupt for hanging somebody who has doing nothing wrong. He undergoes pain for the first time with 'a rope cuts both my wrists behind' and 'For they fling...Stones at me for my year's misdeeds'. We can tell he is coming close to the end as tension has been built through the weather and the change in behaviour of those watching.

Stanza Six

The last stanza can be summed up as the stanza where the patriot finally dies. The ending is more upbeat than expected considering the previous stanzas. He comes to the conclusion that some people die from doing good, 'In triumphs, people have dropped down dead'. At the very end, like with many of Browning's poems (especially The Bishop Orders His Tomb), he refers back to religion to create a universal meaning to the poem, 'Tis God shall repay: I am safer so'. He feels safe (even though he is dying) because he knows morally he has done right and God will see this. From this, he feels fairly safe that he will go to heaven and not hell (like the public want him to go). This links into Browning's message for the poem who asks whether it is better to be out of the world of corruption where it will be more peaceful than to be in the world. This leaves the reader in a tranquillity of conscience to decide upon this deep ideology.

Be sure to check out other poem's I have analysed on Ask Will Online! Please comment if you have any questions.

About Will Green

A student in England studying Automotive Engineering with Motorsport, Will created Ask Will Online back in 2010 to help students revise and bloggers make money. You can follow AskWillOnline via @AskWillOnline.

41 comments so far:

  1. This is so so so helpful :) thank you so much for this. You have saved me!

    ReplyDelete
  2. really good- thanks

    ReplyDelete
  3. thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks, this is so useful! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks so much! This really helped!:)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh my god thank you! You're the best.

    ReplyDelete
  7. awesome work!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. THIS HELPED ME A LOT!!! MUCH APPRECIATED!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks! helped me alot, since my stupid teacher ditches us at the last minute!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks! it really helped me, since my teacher ditched us at the last minute!

    ReplyDelete
  11. a good summary but for the second stanza i think it is a continuation of the first one wherein the patriot describes how he was welcomed and how he was recognized as a hero, that whatever he asks for they give it to him to the point that he thinks that if he asked for the sun they would still respond with "and afterward, what else?"
    .. this is very helpful thanks a lot :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A good analysis of the second stanza, thanks for all the positive comments!

      Delete
  12. thanks! for describing so nicely! :D

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks its really helpfull..

    ReplyDelete
  14. really appreciate this!

    ReplyDelete
  15. very helpful .. thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. This was really helpful, thanks Will! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  17. thanks will, you are not a patch on walpole

    ReplyDelete
  18. saved my life!! so recommending this to my a level buddies thankssss

    ReplyDelete
  19. Extremely helpful for my catching up work, thank you! :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank you very much for this William.
    Love from Saba Hussain

    ReplyDelete
  21. you're the best. Thanks a mil

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thankyou great work, needed this analysis to get through. Good work!

    ReplyDelete
  23. it's a ballad not dramatic monologue as there is no clear sense of audience

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can understand why you think it is a ballad. However, it is a dramatic monologue since it is a speech by the patriot who reveals aspects of his character through telling a story about what he has done to get to where he is.

      Delete
    2. it's a dramatic monolgue for me as a student

      Delete
  24. thankyou for this fine analysis.I got some new shades of meaning.

    ReplyDelete
  25. actually I want some of the examples from Robert Browning's poetry showing that he was not a patriot.

    ReplyDelete
  26. You have a few good ideas, I will grant you, but you seem to have surrounded the good ideas with some rubbish, such as the rain 'represents corruption'. Your last sentence, also, is a lot of waffle with very little meaning, if any. But nonetheless, a helpful essay, keep working.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Kollam kidulamm

    ReplyDelete
  28. HOWEVER... It is of course arguable that The Patriot is actually a heinous criminal. He describes the way in which 'whoever has a mind' flings stones at him for his 'year's misdeeds'. Perhaps he is actually deserved of his hanging. The way The Patriot leaves untold gaps in his narrative suggests even he cannot face what it was that he did wrong, only adding to the ominous nature of the poem. He 'reaps' his 'harvest': again suggesting his hanging is as a result of his doing. He seems to accept his crime but not his punishment. Perhaps he is deluded, driven mad by his power and the 'crowd and cries' of adoration he received in the first and second stanza. This has led him to commit heinous crimes for which he never thought he'd be punished.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, actually this is the answer to the question arising in my mind as to what would have happened within one year which brought him so much down in the eyes of the public . Yes , I have seen similar fate of Muzibbur Rehman of Bangladesh.He too was killed in a coup within three years of getting his country independent . And no body shed any tear on his death

      Delete
  29. helped a lot in my exam!! thanks will!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  30. thank you so much

    ReplyDelete
  31. Can plz anybody send me this full poem.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Really wonderful analysis of the poem

    ReplyDelete