Porphyria's Lover

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Porphyria’s Lover, by Robert Browning is a poem in which a woman named Porphyria is killed by her lover. This man’s obsession with Porphyria led him to murder. Through vocabulary, imagery and situation Browning shows us the mind of an obsessed man.  The imagery in this poem helps the reader visualize the surroundings and therefore understand the main events in the poem. The opening lines in the poem show a dark dismal night:

“The rain set early in tonight,

The sullen wind was soon awake,

 It tore the elm-tops down for spite,

And did its worst to vex the lake:  

I listened with heart fit to break.” 

This helps the reader think of a dark evening and a man sitting impatiently for his lover.  The pathetic fallacy of those first four lines makes us feel that he thinks the outside is deliberately trying to keep Porphyria away.  The next few lines:

 “She shut the cold out and the storm,

And kneeled and made the cheerless grate

Blaze up, and all the cottage warm.”

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 Give us the sense that this woman holds some power over her lover. She seems to take care of him. This sets up a reason why the speaker is obsessed with Porphyria.  Dependence is a common feeling associated with love as many people find that they need them to fill holes inside of them.

 Porphyria is obviously of a higher rank in society by her use of the words “pride and vanity.” This “rank” gives her obvious power. Porphyria’s power is stopped when she tells him why she came:

“Murmuring how she loved me—she

Too weak, for ...

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