Porphyria's Love

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The imagery that Browning uses throughout the dramatic monologue contribute greatly to the understanding of the speaker’s progressive feelings. Browning opens up by personifying the “sullen wind” that “tore the elm-tops” and tried to “vex the lake.” These words most obviously connote sadness and depression. Yet, when Porphyria entered, she was able to bring warmth to the cottage from the previously “cheerless grate.” Suddenly, the speaker is happy because his lover has arrived. He uses vivid imagery when he refers to her “yellow hair” and “smooth white shoulder.” He is filled with great joy (“surprise made my heart swell”) when Porphyria tells him that she is “too weak for all her hearts endeavor to set its struggling passion free from pride.” The speaker’s attitude continues by making a significant shift from happy to somewhat psychotic while he “debated what to do.” This psychotic stage of the speaker’s overall feelings is conveyed with intense imagery. The speaker finally makes up his mind, describing it in great detail – “all her hair in one long yellow string I wound three times her little throat around and strangled her.” The imagery found in the simile “as a shut bud that holds a bee I warily oped her lids” is such a perfect picture of the speaker slowly and nervously opening her eyelids. Personification is incorporated during this period of the poem, as in “again laughed the blue eyes without a stain.” Porphyria’s cheek “blushed bright beneath my burning kiss,” again another excellent example of imagery. The feelings of the speaker at this point, though very noticeably psychotic, can also be seen as content. He is satisfied that he was able to freeze time by fulfilling Porphyria’s “utmost will” so that they may be with each other (yet psychotic because she is dead). Browning closes up the monologue by saying “And all night long we have not

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