Note 3 in the author's "Victorianized Romans: Images of Rome in Victorian Painting."

In her 1977 Brown University Ph.D. dissertation, "Robert Browning and Biblical Typology," Linda H. Peterson demonstrates that the poet employs this form of scriptural symbolism as one answer to his career-long concern with the problems of meaning and organization. According to Professor Peterson, Browning organizes The Ring and the Book around such questions. The first and last books employ typology to examine the role of the poetic imagination in correctly apprehending reality. "In the first triad [Books ii-iv] the monologuists interpret the Franceschini case by correlat- ing its participants and events directly with the Old Testament types. In the second triad, however, the monologuists do not correlate their experiences with the type but instead link themselves with the New Testament antitype. Almost as if they had heard Rome speak, they complete the pattern of prefiguration and fulfillment, presenting either Guido or Pompilia as the 'fulfillment' and thus making the structural arrangement of the first two triads resemble the relationship of Old and New Testaments" (pp. 167-68). "If by Book vii we have already judged the case and established the 'spiritual guilt' of the participants, as Chesterton puts it, what is Browning's concern in the remainder of the poem? Quite simply, in Books viii through xi he tests the validity of the typological method itself, of the patterns it considers authoritative and of the Christian view of history it implies" (p. 182).

[The Victorian Web also contains an introduction to biblical typology in the Victorian period and an entire book on the subject -- Victorian types, Victorian Shadows.]


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Last modified 3 December 2004