1. What do we learn about the character and situation of Fra Lippo Lippi from the opening scene? How do you think the opening scene affects the audience's attitude towards Lippi?
  2. Would you describe Fra Lippo Lippi as a good man? A clever man? One knowledgeable about the world and his position in it?
  3. Why do you think Browning chose this scene as the poem's introduction? What themes does it introduce, and are these continued throughout the poem?
  4. What are some effects of setting the poem in Renaissance Florence? What would the Victorians have known/believed about its culture?
  5. Is Lippi comfortable in his life as a religious painter? What irony resides in the fact that he must paint St. Jerome? How does his choice of words reflect his personality?
  6. Are there ways in which this scene constitutes an allegory of Lippi's life situation?
  7. What effect is created by the inclusion of stornelli (brief poems)?
  8. What are Fra Lippo's successive defenses of his unmonastic behavior? Which ones do you find most compelling?
  9. What kind of paintings had his monastic superiors wished him to paint, and how does his own art break this pattern?
  10. What is Lippi's view of the proper subject matter and mode of art? What does he believe is its ultimate purpose?
  11. Does Lippi seem to make an association between his womanizing and his artistic appreciation of realistic details?
  12. What kind of progression organizes the poem? What substitutes for overt dramatic action?
  13. What are some characteristics of the poem's diction (word choice) and rhythm? Can you find passages in which the language and rhythms shift in accordance with meaning?
  14. What memory finally causes Fra Lippo Lippi to break out in greatest irritation? What view of art would cause people to throw bricks at the evidoers represented in a painting?
  15. How does the final scene in which Lippi describes the painting he will donate embody the poem's plot and thematic tensions? Who is referred to in the phrase, "Iste perfecit opus"? How does the painter feel in the presence of the heavenly host?
  16. Do you find this scene a satisfactory resolution for the problems raised by the poem?
  17. Would you say that Fra Lippo's situation alters several times in the poem? If so, what causes these shifts, and how does he manage to survive a succession of changes?
  18. What do you think Browning intended as the reader's final evaluation of Lippi? Does he represent Browning's highest ideals for art?
  19. Robert Langbaum has claimed that a Browning dramatic monologue balances "sympathy" and "judgement"; is the reader expected to feel both sympathy for and judgment of Lippi?
  20. Does the author seem to believe that the moral qualities of an artist's life and work are related?
  21. What views of religion does this poem seem to embody? To what extent would these have been shared by his Victorian audience?
  22. Does the poem contain humor? Irony? If so, how is it used?
  23. What are some ways in which this dramatic monologue differs from Browning's "Porphyria's Lover" or Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point"?
  24. What seem to have been some advantages of the dramatic monologue, as Victorian poets used it?
  25. Did you like this poem? Which of its qualities did you find interesting?