How Does Robert Browning Tell the Story in Porphyria’s Lover? Essay

976 WordsOct 16, 20124 Pages
How does Robert Browning tell the story in Porphyria’s Lover? Porphyria’s Lover is a poem written in the form of a dramatic monologue. The speaker in the poem (Porphyria’s Lover) is retelling the story of a very profound moment in his life, giving the reader an understanding of the situation and indirectly giving us an idea of their character. The story takes place somewhere in the countryside, which is currently plagued by a horrific storm. The storm is said to have “tore the elm-tops down for spite” and “did its worst to vex the lake”. Nature in this poem has a major contrast with that of ‘romantic’ poems, in that nature becomes violently dark and evil. The personification of the weather is later seen to be a portrayal of the emotions of the speaker. The “sullen winds” describe the serious sadness of he speaker. In the description of the storm Browning is using the method of pathetic fallacy, by giving and inanimate object (the weather in this case), human emotions and characteristics. The storm as a whole is a reference towards the speaker’s mental instability. The story then moves from the storm into the household as Porphyria enters. The name Porphyria, in medical terms, is a genetic abnormality causing abdominal pains and mental confusion. Likewise, in Porphyria's Lover, Porphyria seems to be a source of pain and mental anguish for the speaker. Once she enters the cottage the entire tone of the poem seems to change. There is a more positive and lively attitude. Porphyria is portrayed as having angelic beauty as she “glided” into the cottage. “Straight she shut the cold out and the storm”, meaning that her presence has managed to calm the speaker down and bring him to his senses. She shows a great degree of control in her actions. We get a sense of this woman being quite wealthy from words such as “cloak” and “shawl”, giving the reader an
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