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How does Robert Browning tell the story in Fra Lippo Lippi?
Transcript of How does Robert Browning tell the story in Fra Lippo Lippi?
The Monastery Is: Contrasting with the streets Lippi’s lived on before, the Monastery is a place of faith, tradition and visual beauty. However inside the Church are a range of people, arguing, in poverty, murderers and other negative elements of society. This contrast explores the poems themes as to whether religion is positive or brings more problems than it solves. Rather than praying, children are admiring murderers and the victim’s son is raging with “white anger”, the Church is full of people but seemingly devoid of God. This represents the Prior’s wants for Lippi to paint “the souls of men” rather than a realistic image of man’s woes.
Ultimately the setting acts as a metaphor. The Grand preconceptions from the outside are met with a cramped, spiritually vacuous interior. Acting as a metaphor for Lippi’s thoughts on his art and living an unholy life it questions what is better – accepting our imperfections as what makes us who we are, or striving to achieve something spiritually higher. Cramped. This is shown by Browning’s list of people inside. Enjambment throughout the 50 lines created one solid block of descriptive text showing the full range of people attending the Church. Busy. A huge variety of attendees are present. “fat and lean” “black and white” “little children” and a man “fresh from his murder” shows the stark difference between visitors. Spiritually empty. Little Children crowd around the murderer to admire his beard and watch the confrontation between him and “his victim’s son”. The Church is full of anguish yet the only person who sees is “Christ (whose sad face on the cross only sees this after the passion of a thousand years)”. Although the church is physically full, it’s a spiritual void; the antithesis of the Prior’s demands later in the poem (not to paint the crowd of “flesh” but to paint “the souls of men”). A snapshot of the renaissance. Traditional religious beliefs are being ignored or overlooked by people as others explore if religious guidelines to living life are outdated or wrong. Fra Lippo Lippi uses self-depreciating language when talking about his work ‘scrawled them within the antiphonary’s marge’ this illustrating his lack of confidence in his work, this could be due to the criticism he gets from the church about it as they later tell him ‘rub all out, try at it a second time.’ This shows how the church is in control of the art much like they are in control of Fra Lippo Lippi this lack of control is much like the lack of control he had when being fostered into the monastery. Fra Lippo Lippi’s view of the monks is shown when he says ‘The monks looked black’ the use of ‘black’ suggesting he believes they are dull and implying he thinks they lead boring lives. The words ‘Fresh’ and ‘murder’ in the line ‘Fresh from his murder’ juxtapose each other this not only illustrates but also emphasises Fra Lippo Lippi’s lively mind.