The writing styles of Shakespeare, Elizabeth Browning, and Robert Browning



Shakespeare, Elizabeth, and Robert were all accomplished in their literary works, in their different eras. William Shakespeare made a name for himself as one of the greatest English poets and playwrights, not only in the 16th and 17th century but also up to date. Both Robert and Elizabeth Browning also came up as popular poets later on in the Victorian era. This essay compares and contrasts the writing styles of these three using ‘Backpack literature: An introduction to fiction, poetry, drama, and writing 5th edition’ by Kennedy and Dana as a source. Additionally, more insights about Robert and Elizabeth are sourced from Mary Sanders’ ‘Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning: A creative partnership’.

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To begin with, Shakespeare dwelled more on plays and poems. His plays ranged from comedies to histories, and other times, tragedies such as Romeo and Juliet. Elizabeth was involved more in poetry with recognized works such as ‘The cry of the children’. Robert, just like Shakespeare also published great poems and plays and made a name for himself for his finesse in dramatic monologue and other times dialogue (Kennedy and Gioia 29). Some of his poems include A Death in the Desert’ and ‘A Grammarian Funeral’.


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Shakespeare’s writing style was that of iambic pentameter. In this style, the literature contains a rhythmic pattern of a stressed and unstressed syllable. The use of pentameter, in this case, is because his work contains five stressed syllables followed by five unstressed syllables to make one line. This style was considered traditional and even Shakespeare tended to move away from it. By the time Robert and Elizabeth began their works in literature; iambic pentameter was not very common (Pollock 50). For instance, Robert appeared to be more focused on dramatic expression that embraced a monologue. Elizabeth mostly used the ballad style, where she would write narratives in short stanzas.

Soliloquy was greatly used by Shakespeare especially when it came to the plays. It facilitated the expression of thoughts loudly and made it easier to set the plot such as in the infamous ‘Hamlet’ where he says ‘to be or not to be’ and also in ‘Macbeth’. The same cannot be said of Robert and Elizabeth. Robert tended to lean more towards monologue which differs from a soliloquy in that: soliloquy involves expressing loud thoughts where mostly one is alone. On the other hand, a monologue does not require one to be alone, thus other characters might be listening in (Kennedy and Gioia 29). However, in his works ‘Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister’, Robert used this style extensively involving Spanish monk as the speaker.

Unlike Elizabeth, both Shakespeare and Robert were both dramatists. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that Elizabeth did not venture much into plays like his husband. Furthermore, her poems mostly addressed social injustices and religion. Given that such themes may demand a slightly serious tone; this style may not have been very suitable for her. For Shakespeare though, dramatics was one of his major areas for which he is very popular. Both the language and actions of the characters are greatly dramatized to express themes such as love, betrayal, and even appearance and reality. Robert is well known for dramatic monologue which he extensively used to express irony and dark humor in works such as ‘Prospice’ and ‘Love Among The Ruins’ (Pollock 55).

When it comes to the depth of the characters, Shakespeare deviated from traditional styles whereby stock characters would be used in plays. Instead, he used characters that seemed real and this allowed the audience to relate more with the works. In addition to this, characters in Shakespeare’s works were of all social classes catering to all the audience needs, not just the elite class. This style was adopted by many who came after him including Robert. Robert’s characters such as Porphyria, Brother Lawrence, the Spanish monk, the Prior, and the hoary cripple are all characters who the common audience can identify with. Elizabeth’s poetic works did not involve much of characters although her message was contemporary as it were that time.

Unlike Robert, both Shakespeare and Elizabeth embraced the theme of love which made their works quite likable by the audience, not only then, but also now in the 21st century. Good examples of love poems include ‘How do I love thee’ by Elizabeth, and ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’ by Shakespeare. The language used in this works is that heavily evoking love and romance (Pollock 71). Perhaps Elizabeth is inspired by her love for Robert while Shakespeare also had his lover. Whichever the case, works such as Romeo and Juliet still find a favorable audience up to date due to their strong message of love. Robert’s work did not touch much on love, and instead, he ventured more into humor and irony as he looked into questions about this life through dramatic monologue.


Shakespeare, Elizabeth, and Robert were all popular for their literary work during their time and even up to now. Some of their writing styles were similar while others differed. Both Robert and Shakespeare ventured into poems and plays, while Elizabeth mostly wrote poems. Despite their different styles, they managed to write some of the best works which inspire us up to this day.


Kennedy, X. J. and Dana Gioia, eds. Backpack literature: An introduction to fiction, poetry, drama, and writing. Longman/Pearson, 2016.

Pollock, Mary Sanders. Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning: A Creative Partnership. Routledge, 2016.


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