The poet Robert Browning of 'Porphyria's Lover' and the writer of 'First Love', John Clare, both delve into the complexity of love in many ways, some similar and others contrasting.

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Explore and explain the similarities and differences between the way each poet deals with the theme of love in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ and ‘First Love’. How do you account for these differences?

The poet Robert Browning of ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ and the writer of ‘First Love’, John Clare, both delve into the complexity of love in many ways, some similar and others contrasting.

The most apparent similarity is that both poems are written in the style of a monologue. Throughout these poems the reader is enlightened only to the man's perspective; therefore as a reader, we never encounter the woman’s emotions and can only guess by analyzing the text of what these could be.

     Throughout the monologues both lovers’ characteristics are revealed. In ‘First Love’ the reader encounters a man who is unthreatening and we experience the innocence of him falling in love for the first time. This contrasts with ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ where the reader is subject to the mind of a lover who has a jealous and obsessive nature.

     The reader is immediately aware of this lover’s obsessive character in the opening line. The poet Robert Browning uses the imagery of a storm to imitate the lover’s emotions. The violence of the storm ‘tore the elm tops down for spite’, warns the reader that his emotions are indeed negative and volatile. The use of personification is present when describing the storm. This is shown when the poet uses ‘sullen wind’ to convey his mood. The reader finds out that he is desperately yearning for Porphyria to be with him and he is frustrated that he has to be kept waiting for their assignation. The quotation ‘I listened with a heart fit to break’ confirms the sense of yearning and in effect gives the reader the impression that his love towards the woman is dark and obsessive, this creates a sense of foreboding.

     Throughout the beginning, Robert Browning includes harsh sounding words for example ‘spite’ and ‘vex’. This emphasises the man’s mounting emotions for Porphyria. John Clare, on the other hand, uses soft sounding words in ‘First Love.’ The alliteration of the letter ‘S’ ‘so sudden’ and ‘so sweet’ establishes a sweet and innocent tone to the poem.

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     The sinister nature of the lover in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ is further developed. Robert Browning portrays this by allowing the character not to communicate with Porphyria, only to observe her whilst remaining motionless. His observation of her is meticulous and a bit unsettling for the reader. This is shown when he recalls what she does, ‘kneeled and made the cheerless grate’. His focus on her is further emphasised by the structure of the words using a longer sentence to intensify the scene. The result is that it gives the poem an eerie and disturbing tone which is carried on ...

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The writer makes many illuminating comparisons and contrasts between these texts, using apt quotations and accurate terminology to support the ideas. With better paragraphing, this would be a top standard essay. ****