The Jealous Monk
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The Jealous Monk
Robert Brownings, “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” involves a jealous monk with much hatred of, Brother Lawrence, the “perfect” monk. Irony, diction, and syntax are clearly evident in this dramatic monologue.
Throughout the poem the nameless monk is constantly expressing his anger and sarcasm through the use of syntactical irony. This particular monk is angered at a fellow monk, as evidenced by “If hate killed men, Brother Lawrence, Gods blood, would not mine kill you!” which seems ironic knowing he is a religious monk. He is taking out his anger to a great extent, which is not good church practice. Obviously it seems that Brother Lawrence is good at what he does, and the jealous monk hated him for that. The monk goes back and forth thinking to himself as to what makes Brother Lawrence so perfect. Brother Lawrence is in the churchs secluded Spanish garden where he tends to all the gardening needs while unaware of his presence, watches for any mistake he may make. “He-he! There his lily snaps,” his sarcastic laugh shows he is mad and does not make sense. He describes Brother Lawrences every move during and after dinner as he cleans his plate, lays it on “own shelf(his) fire-new spoon…goblet…rinsed like something sacrificial…marked with L. for our initial!” He rambles on about tedious things that Brother Lawrence does. He mocks how he sets his forks and knives not “cross-wise, to my recollection.” He also says how he sips his wine respectfully (as if he is good), while Brother Lawrence “drains his at one gulp.” It almost seems as if the monk is not thinking straight, losing his mind or may be dying of old age.
As a monk, he plays the total opposite of an actual monk. He puts down the innocent Brother Lawrence, when he himself is the rotten one. Browning expresses certain words with diction. A monk does not watch girls wash their clothes and hair at the bank. “Steeping tresses in the tank, Blue-black, lustrous, think like horsehairs,” the selfish monk does this, not the innocent Brother Lawrence. As a monk, one should not look upon women showering themselves and washing clothes. Being the opposite of a monk he also owns a dirty book, “My Scrofulous French novel…If I double down its pages at the woeful sixteenth print,” he