Porphyrias Lover Critical Essay Template

"Porphyria's Lover" was quite subversive for its time (and to an extent, still is) but prose writers of Browning's Victorian England were also dabbling in Gothic literature and horror. This is one of many examples where Browning shared more with his contemporary prose writers than with his contemporary poets.

The poem is a dramatic monologue which means the speaker addresses someone (perhaps himself, God, the reader, or some other) and his words and thoughts indicate...

"Porphyria's Lover" was quite subversive for its time (and to an extent, still is) but prose writers of Browning's Victorian England were also dabbling in Gothic literature and horror. This is one of many examples where Browning shared more with his contemporary prose writers than with his contemporary poets.

The poem is a dramatic monologue which means the speaker addresses someone (perhaps himself, God, the reader, or some other) and his words and thoughts indicate to the reader his character and/or state of mind. The ababb rhyme scheme and occasional enjambment (lines which grammatically carry over from one line to the next) establish a subtly odd phrasing which parallels the subtle ways Browning establishes the state of mind of the speaker (we get subtle clues but are taken by surprise with the murder).

The poem is about the speaker murdering his lover, Porphyria, by strangling her with her own hair. This poem is an exercise in considering madness, the potential link between violence and sex, and the psychological impact love can have (in this case, on an insane speaker; however, the reader is also left to wonder if the speaker is not insane, perhaps merely a liar).

The calm, casual way the speaker describes the murder is strange, reflecting the warped mind of the speaker. And the event of the murder seems to come out of nowhere unless we consider that the murder is a shift of dominance. When Porphyria comes in, she is active and the speaker is passive.

She put my arm about her waist,

And made her smooth white shoulder bare,

And all her yellow hair displaced,

And, stooping, made my cheek lie there, (16-19).

Notice that she physically controls his movements and "makes" his cheek lie. The speaker, mad with love and insecurity, sees a moment where he can become the dominant figure in their love and takes it, and this takes the reader by surprise. He waits until the "moment she was mine, mine, fair,/Perfectly pure and good." Therefore, he can be with her in this so called "perfect" state forever.

"Porphyria's Lover" is similar to Poe in its treatment of Gothic subjects. And some critics claim that a full analysis of this poem along the lines of Gothic horror has been overlooked. Check the third link below for an analysis which posits that the speaker is not really insane; he kills Porphyria believing she is a vampire. This interpretation is a bit of a stretch, but horror was a contemporary subject in Browning's time. For example,Frankensteinwas published in 1818, Poe lived from 1809-1849, and "Porphyria's Lover" first appeared in 1836.

Porphyria’s Lover Essay

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Porphyria’s Lover

The finest woks of Browning endeavor to explain the mechanics of human psychology. The motions of love, hate, passion, instinct, violence, desire, poverty, violence, and sex and sensuousness are raised from the dead in his poetry with a striking virility and some are even introduced with a remarkable brilliance.

Thanks to the changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution, so many people living in such close quarters, poverty, violence, and sex became part of everyday life. The absence of family and community ties meant newfound personal independence; it also meant the loss of a social safety net. The mid-nineteenth century also saw the rapid growth of newspapers, which functioned not as the current-events journals…show more content…

Porphyria's Lover also demonstrates several of Robert Browning's defining characteristics as a poet. It contains his criticism towards the beliefs and practices of self-restraint and his traditional use of dramatic monologue to expose a single character's personality, which in turn often provides an additional depth to his works in coordination with his use of unpoetic language. Also taking into account the author's own personal experiences with his wife, the poem can also be perceived as a representation of the development of their relationship. Browning's criticism of the idea of self-restraint is evident throughout the poem "Porphyria's Lover" as it was shown in the internal debates both characters underwent as they decided whether or not they should consummate the love between them.

In Robert Browning's dramatic monologue, "Porphyria's Lover," the love-stricken frustrations of a nameless speaker end in a passionate, annihilating response to society's scrutiny towards human sensuality. Cleverly juxtaposing Porphyria's innocent femininity and her sexual transgression, Browning succeeds in displaying society's contradictory embrace of morality next to its rejection of sensual pleasure. In an ironically tranquil domestic setting, warm comfort and affection come to reveal burning emotional perversions within confining social structures. The speaker's violent display of passion ends not with external condemnation, but with the matter-of-fact sense of

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