How a Marxist Reading of Robert Browning’s Porphyria’s Lover Identifies Social Inequality in Victorian England. Essay

1736 WordsJan 14, 20137 Pages
How a Marxist Reading of Robert Browning’s Porphyria’s Lover identifies social inequality in Victorian England. Marxist paradigm focuses upon the realm of economics; proposing that history has been shaped through the struggle of the working class to achieve equality and fairness. Marxism then is often applied to literature; demonstrating how authors explore equality and inequalities in society. An effective and diverse application of the theory is seen within Robert Browning’s dramatic monologue, Porphyria's Lover, in which Browning illustrates a love affair between people of different social groups and the role of ‘the artist’ in capitalist and patronage context. Marxism identifies the inequality in Porphyria’s Lover through sociological symbols. This is seen in ‘Porphyria's’ bourgeois characterisation through her attire. ‘Withdrew the dripping coat and shawl/and laid her soiled gloves untied...’, adheres ‘Porphyria’ to the description of aristocratic Victorians due to the luxurious imagery. Furthermore, Browning’s archaic sociolect, such as the noun ‘shawl’ instead of scarf, adds elegance to the figure enhancing her high echelon image. ‘Porphyria’s’ middle class characterisation is heightened as she is arriving from a ‘gay feast’; demonstrating a precise impediment within their relationship, as feasts were only approved by lower classes on festival days. Browning has used anachronistic symbolism and sociolect within his construction of ‘Porphyria’, highlighting the stark economical contrast with the persona, and challenging the social inequality of class division within Victorian England. Browning’s name choice enhances Marxist theory. Contemporary readers might identify ‘Porphyria’ with the blood disease, Porphyria. Then plausibly believe that the speaker killed ‘Porphyria’ out of mercy. However, the term was not coined for the disease till 1889, by Dr

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