Porphyria's Lover by Robert Browning

Porphyria's Lover by Robert Browning

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Porphyria's Lover by Robert Browning

Violence towards a woman who was once desired and wor-shipped by men appears to be a recurring motif in Browning's po-ems. "Porphyria's lover" is one of the earliest dramatic mono-logues by Robert Browning in which he explores the mind of an insane male lover. Browning reveals the changing thoughts and feelings as well as the emotional disorder of his speaker. The reader often perceives a gap between what the speaker says and what he actually reveals. The poem depends upon the reader's abil-ity to make inferences as well as to analyze the speaker's attitude towards Porphyria since he does not give any background informa-tion. It is also possible to argue that the withdrawal of the author from the text, or his refusal to give you moral guidance after plac-ing a difficult question or situation before you, he must believe one of three things; that no guidance is needed because the case is ob-vious, or that no guidance is possible because you must see the truth yourself, or that it does not really matter if you come up with the same answer he does. In Porphyria's lover we can sense Browning's interest in psychological analysis, he liked to take ab-normal behavior or unconventional characters and analyze them.

Over View

Within this poem there are two main characters, the villainous man and the proud woman. The lover describes how he waited for Porphyria to visit him during a stormy night, which probably pro-jects his inner state of mind. He sees a "sullen wind" which I feel is directly derived from his own sense of gloom and self-pity. Por-phyria comes in with a certain power in the first few lines, she warms the place with her presence and by kneeling down, she "made the cheerless grate blaze up, and all the cottage warm". Por-phyria initiates the first move with power and seduction, it seems that she knows the place very well. She takes off her cloak, which shows that she was somehow hiding, careful not to be recognized by anyone outside. The lover then, describes her beautiful smooth skin and blond hair that he seems to know distinctively.

Few words in the poem make us suggest the Porphyria belongs to an upper class society "from pride and vainer ties dis-sever", she is too weak to fight for her love or admit it to the world.

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She is only attracted to him physically but when it comes to feeling, she would not accept him as a husband.

As they sat together by the fire, the lover was overwhelmed with the pride and pleasure that she loved him. He wanted the moment never to end. He realizes that her undying love for him is not eternal; the only way to capture it is to take her life.

In a sudden madness, he strangles her with her own blonde hair, to keep her his forever. Assuring and flattering himself that she wanted to die at that moment and that he did not really hurt her. " No pain felt she; I am quite sure she felt no pain".
As the poem ends, the reader realizes with a shock that the lover is still sitting with the head of the dead Porphyria on his shoulder. We see here that the situation is reversed; he feels that he gained dominance after all. Finally, he tries to justify his terrible crime by saying that God is supporting him " And yet God has not said a word". This part puzzled me. Is browning mocking religion? Is he commenting on how women receive no voice or justice in so-ciety? Are women better off being dead than being an object of beauty and possession for men in life?
COMMENTARY

The power struggle between men and women seems to play a role in this poem. In a sense, Browning seems to be declaring through a sub theme that religion supports male dominance and suppression of female passion.

I my opinion, this poem is unexpected and ironic. When you begin to read it you will never expect that this man will kill his be-loved. It was love it self that drove him to murder. At the highest point when he thinks she loves him the most, he strangles her. Why? Because in his mind she will love him forever. People fall in and out love all the time. So he felt proud of himself, for she died in love with him. And in his heart she will love him always granted she is no longer living.
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