Close Reading of Porphyria's Lover

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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 is almost manipulating her to “worship” him. Line twenty-two is very important because it shows us the narrator’s logic in killing Porphyria. “Too weak, for all her heart's endeavor.” He is upset that she cannot be with him every day, and this line let’s us know that this is more than likely an affair. “To set its struggling passion free.” (23) He knows that Porphyria want to be with him both physically and sexually, but something is holding her back, something is making her weak. “But passion sometimes would prevail.” (26) At this point in the poem, and my third or fourth time reading this, I almost thing there may be something more than just an affair. Yes this is a very plausible idea, but why is he describing this as almost a disease? We already know that Porphyria is a disease, so could that mean something. "A sudden thought of one so pale." (28) This is where I stop and consider maybe Porphyria is actually sick, and very possibly dying. This could also explain why “But passion sometimes would prevail” is stated in this poem, because Porphyria the disease caused mental illnesses and personality changes. Now taking a look at lines thirty-six to sixty, we see the narrator become more mentally unstable and the death of his beloved. When I first read through this, I just thought that he wanted Porphyria all to himself and was tired of having to wait for her to come to him in this affair. This is also where I realized there was an ABABB rhyme scheme going on in the poem. This type of rhyme scheme is usually most associated with the way we talk day by day, but I also view it as a way someone who is insane talks. Creating a rhyme in his speech pattern is almost psychopathic in a way. He also begins to narrate for Porphyria as well, making it seem that she worships him and almost wants to die to stay with him forever. “That moment she was mine, mine, fair.” (36) Repeating mine twice gives it a selfish tone and makes him seem more unstable than before. When he decides...
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