Close Reading of Porphyria's Lover

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Close Reading of Porphyria's Lover

By | December 2012
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A Close Reading of Porphyria’s Lover
“Porphyria’s Lover,” by Robert Browning, may read as a story about a deranged man killing his girlfriend for no reason, but there is much more to the story. When you pay attention to the details and read the poem line-by-line, you can read more into the story and start to draw your own conclusions. When I read this, I see a man who is conflicted about what to do about his affair with a woman who he loves quite dearly. As I read this poem over, I can start to see other aspects to the story and make up my own details that make sense to the storyline. When you first start off reading “Porphyria’s Lover,” you are drawn a picture of this dark and stormy evening with this man waiting and listening to the storm. “I listened with heart fit to break,”(5) this along with the first few lines suggest that he is anxiously waiting for someone, most likely someone who is coming to meet him late because of pervious commitments, or as I like to assume, his affair. We are then introduced to Porphyria, who we know the narrator loves very deeply by how he describes how she brightens and warms the room. “She shut the cold out and the storm/And kneeled and made the cheerless grate/Blaze up, and all the cottage warm”(7-9) this can also be a way to tell that this isn’t anything new to the couple and Porphyria is comfortable with added to the already built fire in the home. We can also tell by the details he uses to describe how she removes her damp clothes and let’s her long hair fall to her side. Lines 14-22, Porphyria is given a very seductive and almost innocent demeanor. But we can also see that she is almost fighting for his attention, which is also a foreshadowing to her death later in the poem. “And called me. When no voice replied/She put my arm about her waist/And made her smooth white shoulder bare.” (15-17) These lines are a good example of how the narrator’s solemn mood can be connected to Porphyria’s death, and also show’s us how he...

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