• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Analysis of Robert Browning's Porphyria's Lover

Extracts from this document...


Porphyria's Lover - Robert Browning (1836) Robert Chen @ Zwe Kyaw Zwa "Porphyria's Lover" is one of Robert Browning's earliest and most shocking dramatic monologues. It probably takes place during the Victorian age, since most of Browning's poems occur around that time. The poem resolves around the conflicting thoughts of a man obsessed with his lover, Porphyria, and the desire to possess her urges him to strangle her to death, in order to keep her for eternity. Just like other Browning's poems, Porphyria's Lover is also a dramatic monologue, where there is only one speaker and one silent listener, Porphyria. However, in this poem, there is no listener at all since the monologue is all about the Lover's emotions, thoughts and actions. This makes the reader more aware of the his frustrations and debating feelings for his love. Browning has a employed an iambic tetrameter, with a rhyming pattern of ABAAB, CDCCD, etc. Although the meter is constant for the first 4 verse, the 5th one breaks, leading to the fact that the speaker's heart is breaking too. The regular but asymmetrical rhyming pattern indicates that the speaker's mind is unbalanced as well. ...read more.


So, the sin is itself less obvious. Furthermore, he is convinced that Porphyria does not blame him due to her laughing "blue eyes" and her "smiling rosy little head." He also mentions that it is her "wish" to be killed. Finally, he states that God has not judged him, indicating that his action is forgiven. The change in power of passivity is also obvious in a way that Porphyria has been the dominant figure at first, taking in charge of lighting up the cottage and even controlling her Lover's arms. Here, Porphyria is the active character while the Lover is a passive one. Then, suddenly, the power shifts to the speaker when he strangles her to death and props "her head up as before." The reverse event occurs. Looking at the characters, Porphyria and her Lover are a complete contrast to one another. While the description of the first is in bright colours ("smooth white shoulder," "yellow hair," "blue eyes," "rosy little head"), that of the latter is in dull ones ("pale"). She is talkative while he is silent throughout the poem. She is active whereas he is passive, vice versa. ...read more.


This is a memorable image since the Lover has used it to kill her at the end of the poem. Visual imagery can also be seen as blond exemplifies angelic purity. However, the verse, "let the damp hair fall,? can be interpreted that Porphyria is a fallen woman (who has sex outside marriage). Secondly, the storm, mentioned as above, has the mood similar to the speaker and Porphyria can shut it out with her warmth. The third symbol is the eyes."I looked up at her eyes / Happy and proud; at last I knew." It is ambiguous that whether Porphyria or her Lover is happy and proud but it is certain for him that her love is real. The speaker then compares her eyes to "a shut bud that holds a bee." This simile shows the speaker's care of opening the eye-lids, in fear that of getting stung by her eyes, and the alliteration of repeating 'b' sounds further emphasizes this. {*} In conclusion, "Porphyria's Lover" is Browning's attempt to explain the mechanics of human psychology through the themes of love, passion, desire and sensuousness. His traditional technique of using the dramatic monologue exposes a single character, in this case, Porphyria's Lover's personality (development of his feelings and thoughts). Browning has also employed symbols and imagery to support his themes throughout the whole poem. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate World Literature section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate World Literature essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Critical Analysis of After Apple Picking by Robert Frost

    5 star(s)

    This seems to be a tip of the hat to the saying "one in the hand is better than two in the bush"- that the poet cannot appreciate his own efforts and resigns himself to saying "I am done" shows that he is disappointed with himself and that he gives up.

  2. Mending Wall by Robert Frost. Given the use of enjambment and blank verse in ...

    His discursive indirection, portrayed through the combination of the indefinite pronoun "Something" and the loose expletive construction "there is", the speaker evokes a sense of ruminative vagueness and ambiguity even before the curious subject of walls is introduced. - The use of informal, convoluted language provides a linguistic texture for

  1. My Last Duchess. The Last Duchess is a dramatic monologue written by Robert ...

    be the authoritarian dominance of a Renaissance man and simultaneously the commoditisation of women of the time. Throughout the poem, we see that the Duke dehumanizes his wife to dramatic extents. In the line "I call that piece a wonder, now" (Line 2-3, Robert Browning)

  2. Extended essay-The bean trees

    We are foreshown that something horrible has happened to Ismene when Esperanza first sees Turtle: Esperanza was just stepping out of the cab, and when she saw the kids she fell back against the seat, just as if she'd been hit with twenty-eight pounds of air.13 This demonstrates that Turtle

  1. Elizabeth Barrett Browning Sonnet XLIII Commentary

    to satisfy even the simplest of needs Here, Browning uses the literary device repetition to "count" yet another way that she loves her husband-to-be.

  2. Moods, colors and people of the deep blue sea are portrayed in The Sound ...

    ?It was said that the dead woman had been punished for having seen a fearful something at the bottom of the sea,a something that humans are not ment to see.?(P.68) 60. ?He looked down through the pine thicket at the sea,where countless whitecaps were tearing in.

  1. Commentary on Porphyria's Lover by Robert Browning

    Killing her would mean that she would forever be in that state, the state in which she worshipped him, the state that meant he was the primus mobile, and the state that meant she would be his forever. On lines 44-45 he says ?again Laughed the eyes without a stain?

  2. Lord of the Flies Summary and Analysis of Chapters 7,8,9 and 10

    Instead, he tries to rationalize his role in the happenings of last night. o Ralph doesn't want to accept Piggy's rationalism, he can't make himself believe that Simon's death was an accident and insists that it was murder. * Now the word murder, which is associated with the rational system

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work