Critical Appreciation: Porphyria’s Lover
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IB Subsidiary English Mr. Bacon Critical Appreciation: Porphyria's Lover Roberto Thais "Porphyria's Lover" is a Victorian poem written by Robert Browning and narrates the occasion in which a man strangles his lover to death as consequence of his rather special outlook on love, action catalysed by the climaxed situation they were both engaged in. The poem transmits an overall tone of honesty, as if it were a confession, factor clearly appreciated from the macabre detail in which the lyric voice describes the corpse: :"And I untightened next the tress/ About her neck: her cheek once more/ Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss" to the fact that we are being told the story the morning after, while the body is still lying on our narrator. This will help us understand the peculiar and unusual perspective Browning had on love and death.
The "s" and "w" sounds reflect the sonic quality of the blowing wind. Even though it is clear that this initial section uses a pathetic fallacy mirroring the horrid events to come, it can be regarded as a reflection of the duality of love the lyric speaker feels, and love itself when we combine the nature of the weather to that of Porphyria. This interpretation will be further developed later on in the commentary. The section describes Porphyria's actions before being killed, which the first one being the entrance to the cottage: "When in glided Porphyria". This is important because we can extrapolate two connections with the description of the weather from this sentence. Firstly, the word "glided" evidently suggests the wind, additionally the unusual syntax of the first line is present here too.
The actual chapter of her death conveys again entirely an image of dual state or nature. The lover is so desperate to retain Porphyria's love "forever" that the only way he could resolve to keep her was death. Even though Love and death are two completely counterposed themes, Browning here juxtaposes them very effectively in what conveys the image of a necrophilic ritual. A certain "pleasure of death" is suggested in the line "As a shut bud that holds a bee" as if Porphyria's maximum ecstasy was to be killed in the arms of the man she worshipped. We also see that the lyric voice takes death quite light heartedly ("The smiling rosy head" ) as if were no further than a means for the couple to stay together, in the form of some sombre marriage. The overall structure and wording of the poem suggests duality in a myriad of different levels.
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