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Explore how Browning and Marvell present the theme of Obsession in 'Porphyria's Lover' and 'To His Coy Mistress'.

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Introduction

Explore how Browning and Marvell present the theme of Obsession in 'Porphyria's Lover' and 'To His Coy Mistress' Robert Browning and Andrew Marvell both use the idea of obsession as the basis for their poems but although there are similarities in the personae's obsessions, each seems obsessed in a different way. I understand the word 'obsession' to mean when a person's thoughts are completely dominated by something or someone. This is definitely what we see in these poems and each author subtly portrays their own ideas on obsession very effectively. The obsessed personae in the two poems are clearly very different but share an obvious common ground, they are both obsessed with a woman. In Porphyria's Lover the relationship which exists between the man and his female lover does not seem a conventional one. It seems very special and passionate and she seems to be the basis of his whole life. At the start is says how she "glided in" and "shut out the cold and the storm" this use of imagery makes us think of her as almost god-like and certainly very important in the way he perceives her. The reference to the storm is a warning sign of things to come, as it is the only downside to an otherwise perfect image being built up. ...read more.

Middle

The obsessions in Porphyria's Lover are more psychopathic, like his obsession with her "yellow hair", which ironically is what he uses as his murder weapon. The fact that he refers to it as yellow as opposed to blonde makes us think less of it as hair and more as an object, like the "yellow string" he refers to it as later on. It is a twisted way of killing someone, strangling him or her with their own hair and makes us think of him as psychopathic. This idea of psychopathic behaviour is repeated at the very end of the poem after he has propped her head on his shoulder as if she were a doll, it says "And all night long we have not stirred, and yet God has not said a word". He sits in the same position with her corpse draped over him all night, as if he really is stuck in the moment, he does not try and rid of the body or cover up the murder, but just sits there with her for hours on end. The same is not true of the obsessed persona in To His Coy Mistress, as he does not have these strange obsessions as such although there are some similarities. ...read more.

Conclusion

Finally the last section is where he uses strong imagery and persuasive language, like using "am'rous birds of prey" to represent passion. The rhyme scheme continues here and stays constant throughout the poem but the rhythm is different, it is more powerful and emphasised in the final section with it being at a pace in between the first two. It is split up like this so that Marvell can show different sides to the persona's obsession and so that the reader can get a better insight into his mind. I think that Marvell's poem To His Coy Mistress portrays desperation best and uses more powerful language to support the case in hand but in my opinion Porphyria's Lover gives a better portrayal of obsession. More empathy can be felt in this poem where as it is pure sympathy for the girl in To His Coy Mistress due to Marvell's persona's bullying tactics. Robert Browning's use of repetition and the way he depicts the obsessed persona as insane such as when after he kills her he talks about her "smiling rosy little head" as it "droops upon" his shoulder works very well and portrays obsession very effectively. Overall I see this as a better poem as it gives a clearer picture of what is happening and in my opinion is the better poem for the portrayal of obsession. 1 1 ...read more.

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