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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. ...read more.


However unlike the woman in 'Porphyria's Lover', the power remains with her to the end. One explanation for this is that both women were of higher social status. In 'Porphyria's Lover' the reader is aware of this superiority by the description of her garments. Her 'soiled gloves' indicated that she belonged to a wealthy other man as gloves were an expensive item of clothing in the era portrayed. Porphyria could therefore never be with the lover as it would have been unacceptable to society in those days. In 'First Love' the man's love was also unrequited again possibly because of social status. The poet's use of imagery of the heart to convey the same idea of love does differ. In 'First Love' the heart is used symbolically. It is first mentioned by stating 'stole my heart away complete', which is significant as it means that he has fallen in love. The writer continues to delve into the subject of love by further using the heart to symbolise the effects of which love beholds. This is particularly shown in line sixteen, 'blood burnt round my heart'; representing the passion of his love. Contrasting to this, the poet Robert Browning uses the heart in a continuous battle with the mind of Porpyhria, 'too weak, for all her heart's endeavour', this suggests that her heart wants to be with him but is overpowered by her mind, which he believes prevents her staying with him. ...read more.


This gives the reader the impression that he is deluding himself as 'worshipped' is a very strong word to use. The lover then kills Porphyria in an act to preserve this captured moment. Throughout both poems flowers are used as imagery however in very different scenarios. The image of the flower is used in 'Porphyria's Lover' in an unnatural way to describe him openings the eyes of a dead Porphyria. This simile ' as a shut bud which holds a bee' uses the flower which normally represents beauty to depict a horrific image therefore this turns the natural and pleasant image of flowers are associated upside down. Similarly the flowers in 'First Love' are used in an unnatural way, 'are flowers the winters choice?' This use of a rhetorical question conveys in the poem a cold and sad image of love to the reader. Contrasting to this, in the same poem, the image of the flower is used in a pleasant way to describe the beauty of the woman. 'Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower,' emphasises her purity. Many differences occurred throughout both poems as Robert Browning and John Clare explored the different types of love. 'Porpyria's Lover' was based on an obsessive love and the poet explored the tragic consequences of this. Whereas in, 'First Love', John Clare explored the innocence of first love and how the outcome was left to fate and not manipulated. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

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. ****

Marked by teacher Karen Reader 08/05/2012

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