Browning breaks "Bishop Blougram's Apology" into 39 stanzas — or verse paragraphs — that vary significantly in length. Does this structure reflect the semantics of the poem? If so, is it a reflection, a contrast, or something else. If not, what function does the varying length serve?
Punctuation counts show an interesting balance of emphasis — there are 203 em dashes, 176 periods, 96 question marks, and 95 exclamation marks. What impact do the large number of em dashes, question marks, and exclamation points (twice as many as the number of periods) have on the poem?
Throughout the poem, the Bishop puts forth assertions and arguments that counter his opponent's positions. What are the assumptions underlying his arguments? Are they consistent, or do they contradict or otherwise drastically change as the poem progresses? In the passage of which this is the beginning the Bishop seems to be saying that divine revelation is the only basis formorality.
Put natural religion to the test
You've just demolished the revealed with — quick,
Down to the root of all that checks your will,
All prohibition to lie, kill and thieve,
Or even to be an atheistic priest!
Suppose a pricking to incontinence —
Philosophers deduce you chastity
Or shame, from just the fact that at the first
Whoso embraced a woman in the field,
Threw club down and forewent his brains beside,
So, stood a ready victim in the reach
Of any brother savage, club in hand;
Hence saw the use of going out of sight
In wood or cave to prosecute his loves:
I read this in a French book t' other day.
Does law so analysed coerce you much?
What is the position being put forth by Gigadibs — as implied by the Bishop? What, if any, alternative ethical foundations might be advanced to counter the Bishop's position?
How is the Bishop's view of life after death the same or different from the view of the Bishop in "The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxeds Church"?
How is the Bishop's view of the importance of worldly success the same or different from the Puritan work ethic?
Modified 26 September 2003