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The two poems I am studying are 'The Flea' by John Donne and 'Porthyria's Lover' by Robert Browning. The authors of both these poems approach the theme of love in very individual and original ways. I am going to examine both.

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Introduction

Laura Cowley Pre 20th Century poetry The two poems I am studying are 'The Flea' by John Donne and 'Porthyria's Lover' by Robert Browning. The authors of both these poems approach the theme of love in very individual and original ways. I am going to examine both. The poem 'Porthyria's Lover' is about a woman called Porthyria who is strangled to death by her lover. The man telling the story seems to want to keep Porthyria by his side forever. He has very obsessive love for her. He is possessive and jealous and his deadly mind games bring nothing but heartache for Porthyria. He wants their love to last forever and plans on doing this no matter what it takes. Porthyria's Lover totally adores her. On her arrival she made "all the cottage warm". When she entered the room she "shut out the cold" and nothing else mattered to him. Although its seems like he was been waiting for her he is very unresponsive as she called him and "no voice replied". As much as her seems to adore her he describes her gloves as "soiled", maybe saying that in his eyes she is not quite as innocent as she makes out to be. ...read more.

Middle

All this thoughts are sorted in his head and he is in a very rational state of mind. It is no surprise to himself he is going to kill Porthyria, maybe subconsciously he always knew. Throughout the poem there are rhyming couplets. Using these gives more emphasis at crucial points. Words are also out to the beginning or end of a line to also add more emphasis. Sentences are broken up to be left on their own. "And strangled her" is an example of this as is "surprise". This puts more emphasis on it and gives the reader the impression that he was maybe doubting Porthyria's commitment. The repetition of "mine" makes the reader that Porthyria's lover is not sure if she is really his. He is trying to convince himself. It is written in the first person narrative, which makes the poem seem more meaningful. An interesting point is that is that the word "he" is never mention once yet the reader assumes the lover is a man. The word "she" is used a lot in the poem and maybe this is to show the lovers unhealthy obsession with Porthyria that contributes to her murder. I think that the ending is effective. ...read more.

Conclusion

The poem also seems a bit too clever making the mistress and the reader doubt there is any warmth in it or if he really only wants sex. Lighthearted ideas are used to amuse. "The Flea" is an unconventional love poem that is very well thought out. Most love poems are about flowers and sunshine and this poem is about a flea, which is an original yet unusual idea. In both poems the poet is trying to convince someone that what the want or what they have done is right. In "Porthyria's Lover" he is trying to convince the reader, and himself, that killing Porthyria was the right thing to do where as in "The Flea" the poet is trying to convince his mistress to loose her "maidenhood". Porthyria and the mistress are both made out to be respectable women. They don't want to do anything to harm their "honour". For the mistress it means not loosing her virginity when she is not married and for Porthyria its not carrying on with two lovers as the poet suggests. There is a big contrast between the two poems. Although they are both love poems they are very different. In "Porthyria's Lover" the poet seems to really lover Porthyria but in the flea it seems as if the poet just wants to get his mistress in to bed. ...read more.

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