Analysis of Porphyria’s Lover by Robert Browning

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Imagine a mysterious speaker is sitting by himself in his house on a very stormy night. When all of a sudden his lover arrives out of the storm, starting up the fireplace and removing her wet outer clothing. She sits down next to her lover to snuggle and cuddle, laying his head on her shoulder. The unknown man looks her in the eyes, finally realizing how much she loves him. So…he chokes her with her own hair. Then opens her eyes and takes the hair from around her neck. Spending the rest of the night with her as if nothing ever happened. Creepy right?
In Porphyria’s Lover a poem written by Robert Browning the irony is sharply clear, the narrator has committed a very brutal act and justifies it as not only acceptable, but as noble. Throughout the poem the imagery and symbolism along with theme and setting suggest an overextended darkness. The narrator starts by describing the storm outside. Strangely, he describes the storm with adjectives that suggest that the weather knows what it's doing. After all the weather isn't aware of emotions. Key examples of this is written throughout the beginning of the poem. In line 2 the words “Sullen” and “Awake” are used to personify the weather. It’s not like the wind can really feel grumpy, nor could it have been asleep then decided to wake up. Further down in line 7 the narrator gives the thought that Porphyria has some kind of control over the storm -- she is able to somehow “shut it out” almost instantly. The narrator nevers tells use how she does it, just the effects of her power.
The most vivid and also memorable form of imagery happens to be Porphyria’s yellow-blonde hair. The narrator talks about it quite a bit, giving the impression that he might have some sort of hair fetish. In line 13...

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... empty glare.
The rhythm and sound of this poem is made to draw in the reader, to make them feel a false sense of security before being dragged into a world of darkness and despair. The narrator never misses a beat throughout the whole poem giving the image that he may have planned the murder before hand. The narrator takes a twisted look at the nature of love and its effects on people. Browning shows the dangers of obsessive love through the narrator of the poem, whose sin fueled desire to dominance appears slowly through the poem. Browning’s use of the dramatic monologue and subtle word choice help the reader to fully understand the narrator’s shocking murder of his lover.

Works Cited

Schmidt, Jan Zlotnik., and Lynne Crockett. "Porphyria's Lover." Portable Legacies: Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Nonfiction. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2013. N. pag. Print.
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