Analysis of Mood in Porphyria's Lover

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Erin Brewton
Rosemary Royston
ENGL 2601
21 October 2012
Mood in Porphyria’s Lover
Robert Browning uses powerful moments of personification and imagery that linger in a reader’s mind. However, the one craft that truly stands out is the mood of the poem. Browning uses specific word choice, imagery, and tone to shape the mood into what can best be described as haunting. Given the topic of the piece, the reaction to find the piece haunting only seems natural. But Browning uses some very interesting ways to make a reader slightly uncomfortable even before awareness is raised about the disturbing murder to follow. He also uses punctuation in the last few lines to capture the long-going uneasiness and blooming insanity of the work. After the first line of the poem, Browning begins to use personification, telling us “The sullen wind was soon awake, / It tore the elm-tops down for spite, / And did its worst to vex the lake:” (Browning 2-4). The words chosen for personifying the wind have clear negative connotations. Browning tells us that the wind is tearing down the tree tops just “for spite”, which acknowledges that the wind has a specific intent to hurt the trees. The lake is also being purposefully agitated by the wind. The aggressive nature of the wind is foreshadowing the strangling of Porphyria and certainly setting an unsettling mood from the very first lines of the poem.

Porphyria enters the house and “from her form / Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl, / And laid her soiled gloves by, untied / Her hat and let the damp hair fall” (Browning 10-13). The key words in these lines are “dripping” and “soiled”. Both of these words are purposefully used to represent Porphyria. The term soiled implies that she is in fact unfaithful. “Dripping” could be taken in a couple of ways. Metaphorically, she could be dripping with dirtiness from sleeping with another man/other men. Literally, her cloak and shawl are dripping, but this could also refer to specific...
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