A poem written in the form of a speech of an individual character; it compresses into a single vivid scene a narrative sense of the speaker’s history and psychological insight into his character. It is a poem in which one character speaks, while there are other characters present on the scene. There is a difference between a soliloquy and a dramatic monologue, in soliloquy a speaker is alone (it can be called a lengthy aside.) It is dramatic because it is full of dramatic irony.
Patriot into Traitor as a Dramatic Monologue:
Browning through this dramatic monologue has captured the mood of disillusionment and frustration of a leader who was considered a hero yesterday, but due to an unfortunate political upheaval, branded as a traitor. His tragic downfall is pitiable. And now condemned by the people, he hopefully waits for the judgement of God to redeem him. There are sudden and catastrophic changes shown in the rise and fall of the leader. The reader becomes surprisingly aware of the sudden and catastrophic rise and fall of the hero which has taken with in the lapse of one year.
In this dramatic monologue, Robert Browning describes the rise and fall of a political leader. Not only the rise but also the fall is sudden and quick. The poem has a special relevance to the political conditions prevailing in the third world countries today. The poet says that in the early part of the life of a political leader, success appears to be on his side. People loved him and adorned his way with petals of roses mixed with other flowers. They welcomed him from the house-tops with flags and it was only a year ago. The bells rang for him and there were crowd and cries everywhere(even in churches). The leader said that if he uttered to the people that he disliked the mere noises and the sun might be brought also from the sky on earth, the people would say what the next order to comply with. Instead he himself jumped at the sun to bring it on the earth for the people. He remained
unsuccessful because no human being could achieve like that. But he, the leader was not given the reward. He could get nothing except being branded as traitor.
Now an year has lapsed. There is nobody on the house-tops to welcome him. The leader is walking while it is raining. A tight rope is cutting his both wrists. His forehead is bleeding. People who greeted him with open
arms just an year ago, are now, pelting stones on him and condemning him for his misdeeds. The fallen leader concludes that his entrance into the political life was a success. But his end is by no means praiseworthy. He says that he has paid what he owned to the people. Now, he will be rewarded by God in
the life hereafter.
The poet wants to make it clear that in third world countries democracy and democratic traditions are not still deep rooted. Democratic tolerance is not present. Therefore the political leaders have to meet such
circumstances. The poem contains a lesson for the people of third world countries. It is the lesson of steadfastness and tolerance in social as well as political life. Dramatic irony, political satire exact and realistic expression and optimistic end have made the poem a remarkable piece of poetic art.