Pippa Passes

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

By R. Browning, published 1841 as No. I of the series Bells and Pomegranates. In its final version it consists of an ‘Introduction’ in verse and four parts, entitled ‘Morning’, ‘Noon’, ‘Evening’, and ‘Night’. The first two parts and the fourth combine verse and prose, a combination which was influenced by Browning's study of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama.

The play is set in and around Asolo, a small town near Venice. The plot is a web of dramatic ironies. The Introduction shows Pippa, a young silk‐worker, waking up on the morning of her annual holiday. She contrasts the life of ‘Asolo's Four Happiest Ones’ with her own. These four constitute an ascending scale of value, from carnal love, through married love, filial love, reaching at last for the love of God. Pippa ‘passes’ by each of the four main scenes in turn, singing as she goes; each song, ironically juxtaposed with the action, effects a moral revolution in the characters concerned. (The famous concluding lines of Pippa's first song, ‘God's in his heaven—All's right with the world!’, are often quoted out of context as evidence of Browning's own naïve optimism.) At the end of the drama we see Pippa back in her room at nightfall, unaware of the day's events.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.