Colour Purple, Porphyrias Lover

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The “Color Purple” and “Porphyria’s Lover”, a poem by Robert Browning, are very thematically similar. Both have very closely related but different examples to show the effects and the power of possession.

The first example of possession in “Color Purple” is exposed in the relationship between Celie and the man she had grown up calling her “pa”. This man had treated Celie as one of his animals, acting as if he had owned her. After spending years of forcing Celie to do many of his duties, Pa (otherwise known as Alphonso) had decided it was time to get rid of her and married her off. Alphonso uses many catches, all of which helped convince Mr________ to accept Celie in marriage. Some of these bribes included “You can do everything just like you want to and she aint gonna make you feed it or clothe it” and “She’d come with her own Linen. She can take that cow she raise down there back of the crib.” These quotes show how her Pa believed he owned her. The possession he held for Celie was so great that he was able to offer her for marriage not because of the person she was, but for the things she could bring with her, and the chores she was able to complete.

Browning’s Poem “Porphyria’s Lover” uses the plot of this dramatic monologue to represent and tie in the aspect of possession. The man in Porphyria’s life is so engaged in the fact that Porphyria has some sense of feeling toward him and believes that her connections with the outside world is the only thing keeping her from staying with him. This man is so in love with Porphyria that she is able to make everything for him feel better. To him, Porphyria is above all else and changes the atmosphere almost automatically. “When glided in Porphyria; straight she shut the cold out and the storm, And kneeled down and made the cheerless grate Blaze up and make the whole cottage warm.”

Another way Walker uses her novel to develop possession, is when Celie decides to leave for Memphis with Shug, to get away from Mr______. After years of dealing with her husband’s ways of life, putting up with all the beatings, and having to deal with being owned, Celie decides that everything would be better off living with Shug who truly cares for her. The true feelings and the streak of possession starts to truly show when Mr______ hears of this. He exclaims to Celie “Who you think you is?.. You can’t curse nobody. Look at you. You black, you pore, You Ugly, You a woman. Goddam, he say, you nothing at all”. He uses this to try to persuade and convince Celie that she will be no good away from him, but it does not work. She follows her feelings and escapes from the life with him.

Similarly, “Porphyria’s Lover” is another example of the man trying to gain possession over the women in his life. Alternatively, Browning allows the man to effectively gain this possession. On realising that Porphyria truly does worship him, and that no matter how much her heart tells her that she loves him, she cannot tear herself away from her vein attires; he becomes determined on what to do. He realises that there is only one way to keep their love together, perfect and pure. “That moment she was mine, mine, fair, perfectly pure and good. I found a thing to do….And strangled her.” This example showed how the possession was so great, that Porphyria was unable to escape.

An additional way Alice Walker uses “Color Purple” to develop the idea of possession, very alike to Celie and Mr_____ relationship, is the marriage of Sofia and Harpo. Harpo does not like the idea of Sofia doing her own thing, having her own ideas and independence and so he confides with his father on what he could do. Harpo becomes convinced that to remove this independence, he needs to beat her. On attempting to beat Sofia, Harpo realises that she is not going to give in that way, and how much of a fight she can put up. On deciding that there is no way he is able to win in the frame he is in, Harpo starts to eat uncontrollably in attempt to...
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