Poem Analysis: Porphyria's Lover

482 WordsFeb 11, 20142 Pages
Poem Analysis: “Porphyria’s Lover” Like many Victorian writers, Browning was trying to explore the boundaries of sensuality in his work. How is it that society considers the beauty of the female body to be immoral whole never questioning the morality of language’s sensuality – a sensuality often most manifested in poetry? Why does society see both sex and violence as transgressive? What is the relationship between the two? Which is “worse”? These are some questions that Browning’s poetry posits. And he typically does not offer any answers to them: Browning is no moralist, although he is no libertine either. As a fairly liberal man, he is confused by his society’s simultaneous embrace of both moral righteousness and a desire for sensation; “Porphyria’s Lover” explores this contradiction. Browning’s dramatic monologues are often narrated by very sinister characters, and the reader must piece together what the truth of the story is. Porphyria’s Lover was the first short dramatic monologue that Browning wrote, and was one of the first of his poems to feature a character with psychosis. The woman in the poem is named after a disease called Porphyria. It is a rare type of disease, which can result in madness of some kind. This has led some people to interpret the poem as a metaphor for dealing with this disease. It was first identified a few years before the poem was written. The poem is a narrative of a murder, told calmly and callously. On a stormy night the apparently depressed narrator is sitting alone in a cold and dark cottage. Out of the storm the girl he loves, Porphyria, arrives and makes up the fire. She sits beside him but he won’t speak. She tells him she loves him and rests her head on his shoulder, arranging his arm around her waist. He was “so pale/for love of her” and thought she didn’t love him. He is delighted to discover that she loves him. In that

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