Critical Analysis of "Porphylia's Lover"

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Alan Barrionuevo

Francis Riggs

English 102

03/06/2013

A look into the poem, “Porphylia’s Lover”

There is a lot of uncertainty and misunderstanding in “Porphyria’s Lover” by Robert Browning. This poem has been misinterpreted throughout the years since it was written in 1836. Many would assume that the unnamed speaker in the play was a cold blooded murderer who killed his lover because he was a psychopath. The play begins with a description of the kind of day it was. The speaker describes it as cold, stormy and windy setting the mood for “cloudy and stormy” type chain of events. The speaker proceeds to talk about Porphyria and her visits to the cottage symbolizing a relationship of some sort maybe even a clandestine love affair. The speaker says, “which done, she rose, and from her form

Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the dam hair fall,
and, last, she sat down by my side
and called me. When no voice replied,
She put my arm about her waist
And made her smooth white shoulder bare” (699)
This describes a moment when both Porphyria and the unnamed speaker are sharing a very intimate moment. She then proceeds to profess her love to the speaker. He says, “She was murmuring how she loved me- she too weak, for all her hart’s endeavor to set its struggling passion free from pride, and vainer ties dissever and give herself to me forever” (699) This part suggests that, she loved him but would not give herself to him because of some “ties.” Porphyria seems to not be able to set her passion free meaning that she loves him very much but can not go through with it. The speaker seems to have a very profound love for Porphyria. This is made evident when he bends over to lay and rub his cheek on her hair. This gives the reader the image of his affection for Porphyria. As the poem continues, it becomes evident that porphyria is suffering from a terminal illness...
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