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Themes in Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came

Themes Examples in Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came:

Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came

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"I had so long suffered in this quest,..."   (Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came)

The speaker affirms that his journey has purpose; he seeks the Dark Tower for a particular reason. Quest narratives in prose and verse generally feature a seeker, a destination, a stated reason for going there, trials and tribulations on the journey, and finally a real, or revealed, reason for going there. While Browning’s speaker’s quest includes nearly all of these features, the stated reason is notably absent; readers do not know why he seeks the Dark Tower. This places more emphasis on the journey itself and the challenges the speaker faces, since his background and motivation remain a mystery.

"As when a sick man very near to death..."   (Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came)

John Donne’s 1633 poem “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” features a stanza very similar to this one. In both poems, a group surrounds a man on his deathbed to witness his last moments. However, where Donne’s concerns the body, Browning’s focuses on the dying man, registering the farewells of his friends and hoping “he may not shame such tender love.” This and the next stanza attend to the speaker’s thoughts of death, of perishing in pursuit of the Dark Tower. In this meditation, he questions whether or not he is worthy of remembrance.

"he lied in every word..."   (Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came)

Browning’s speaker introduces an element of deceit at the very beginning of the poem. Careful readers should note too that since the speaker finds himself questioning the veracity of the hoary cripple, the truth of the speaker’s subsequent journey is open for interrogation. Much like Edgar’s Poor Tom in King Lear, Browning’s speaker undergoes trials and tribulations that may not be reliably recounted.

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