Comparing Victorian and Twentieth Century Literature

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Comparing Victorian and Twentieth Century Literature Even though certain works are designated to certain periods in time, many works from say, the Victorian period have similar controlling images when compared to works from the Twentieth century. Each writer presents an image that is repeatedly used throughout the work. The same image is used in each work even though they were written during different periods in time. Sometimes, even the location of the image, where it was placed in the text, helps to develop the image within the work. It may be used to convey the writer’s opinion on the subject but a lot of images are familiar and carry over from generation to generation and are continually discussed in works of literature. The only thing that changes is the way in which it is being presented and discussed. Two works that we have studied this semester that possess similar controlling images are, William Butler Yeats’s “Leda and the Swan” and Robert Browning’s “Porphyria’a Lover.” Both discuss the idea of “love gone bad” and the suppression of women by men. Starting with the earlier of the two, “Porphyria’s Lover” is a poem written at the end of the 1830s during the Victorian Period in England. How it is categorized with the rest of Browning’s poems, Dramatic Romances, tell us that nothing good will result of any love that is to occur in the poem. Porphyria is introduced as the dominant partner with agency, while her lover is reticent and inactive. When the lover suddenly inverses the roles, it appears as if he is achieving some sort of revenge because this woman has manipulated him. Yet the entire time, we only see Porphyria through the eyes of the lover. The speaker uses Porphyria to rationalize his own shortcomings and recasts her as a reflection of himself to help compensate for his weaknesses. The fact that he retains his voice and Porphyria lacks hers puts him in the assertive position. Why is it that such a passionate woman is unable to get a response from the man that she loves? Why is the narrator of this poem unable to respond to his lover when she calls out his name? Is the narrator unable to deal with her intense love for him? Is this why he murders her, is he murdering the entire concept of desire and love?
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