Women & Death: Symbols Beyond Themselves Essay

Women & Death: Symbols Beyond Themselves Essay

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Women’s bodies were used to emblematize ideas. Women represent the state of the nation. Her body is a symbol to which our culture uses for different meanings. She represents things beyond herself, she is used and no longer becomes the body but beyond it. If she is a good woman, pure and chaste, she symbolizes the death of the innocent. If she is sexually promiscuous, she represents the fall of a nation. Other times, she is used to symbolize an idea or to show the oppression of a certain group.
“Porphyria’s Lover” tries to convince the reader to sympathize with her killer, who saved her from her impure life, stating that God agreed with his actions “And all night long we have not stirred/And yet God has not said a word” (Browning line 59-60). The speaker has convinced himself that God approves his actions in keeping her pure, and that the speaker’s life is more important than Porphyria’s. Despite the fact that the crime was against the values of Christianity, the speaker is not punished, and God stays silent. Reading deeper into the poem reveals a rhyming pattern of ABABB this rhythm remains unchanged throughout the poem, even while Porphyria is being murdered. The lack of change in rhythm in the poem suggests that the murderous lover does not change his emotion even as he “wound her hair around her throat and strangled her” (40). The speaker of the poem convinces himself that Porphyria wanted to be murdered, that “Her darling one wish would be heard” (57). Because Porphyria is shown to be walking through the night in stormy weather, with her hair down, and wearing “soiled gloves” (12), she is portrayed as a fallen woman, though of upper class by her mode of dress, whose sexual promiscuity could only have been saved through her...


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... Skidmore University and Bard College. Web. 4 March 2011. .
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrims Point.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol. 2. Gen. Ed. M.H. Abrams. New York: Norton, 2000. 169-172. Print.
Browning, Robert. "Porphyria's Lover." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol. 2. Gen. Ed. M.H. Abrams. New York: Norton, 2000. 163-163. Print.
Eriksson, Katarina . "Ophelia's Flowers and Their Symbolic Meaning Act 4, Scene 5, of Shakespeare's Hamlet." Huntington Botanical. The Huntington, n.d. Web. 6 Mar 2011. .
Shakespeare, William. "The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark." The World Wide Web Consortium. Moby Lexical Tools, 1999. Web. 2 Mar 2011. .

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