Compare And Contrast "Porphyria's Lover" and "My Last Duchess"

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Manu Nair                11Y2

Ms Alexander                1729

Compare And Contrast “Porphyria’s Lover” and “My Last Duchess”?

By Robert Browning

The poems ‘My last Duchess’ and ‘Porphyrias Lover’ are both written by poet Robert Browning, they both have got the same theme of love. The two poems are both about psychotic men who have an influence over their female companions’ death.  However, the motives of the killings are different for each poem.


The poem ‘Porphyrias Lover’ is a memory about a woman who was having an affair with a man, the lover, who also narrates this poem.  This poem could be performed in front of an audience hence it is a dramatic monologue, and this poem is a narrative as it is telling the reader a story.  The setting of ‘Prophyrias Lover’ starts off one stormy night;

‘The rain set early in to-night’.

This shows a hint of what is to come further on in the poem and prepares the reader by setting the scene.  A stormy night gives a clue as to the poem leading to an unhappy event.  Outside it is dark and a lightning storm is taking place; ‘tore the elm-tops down,’ when Porphyrias glides into the house, ‘when glided in Porphyria’.  This is an angelic movement that makes the poem mysterious for the reader.  The lover feels that she is too weak to love and care for him.

‘Too weak, for all her heart’s endeavour’

The lover wants to be loved by Porphyria and is very possessive, as he wants to keep her for always. The lover therefore had a motive for killing Porphyria.  The lover feels that Porphyria must worship him and that she has to belong to only him as he says;

‘Porphyria worshipped…she was mine, mine’

Because of Porphyria worshipping the lover, the lover feels like he is god and he would feel like he has the authority and the power to take Porphyria’s life. He is possessive, obsessive and psychotic, with the repetition of ‘mine’.  By doing this it makes the lover psychotic and the lover feels that what he is doing is perfectly justified and is not a wrongdoing;

‘Perfectly pure and good’

This shows that the lovers’ love for her has made him unable to understand anything else and nothing would stop him having her even if he had to kill her. The murder or killing of Porphyria is very direct;

‘In one yellow string I wound

Three times her little throat around,

And strangled her. No pain felt she;

I am quite sure she felt no pain.’

The lover doesn’t show any feelings or emotions when he killed Porphyria.  He also states that he was ‘quite sure she felt no pain’, This adds to the fact that he is psychotic, because the lover thinks that Porphyria wanted him to kill her but he is wrong, as obviously she would have felt the pain of him strangling her to death.

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Furthermore when the lover kills her, he sits with her and kisses her over, leaving a ‘blush’ on her cheeks.  However once the woman is dead how could she blush?  The lover wants to show that Porphyria loves him back as well. As Porphyria is dead, her head falls into the lover’s shoulders.  This position is how they stay for the rest of the poem and night.  The lover also feels his action of killing Porphyria are justified, because she belongs to him and that he is very possessive hence she should only love him and that god has not ...

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