Porphyria's Lover Analysis

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Porphyria’s Lover by Robert Browning - An Analysis

The finest woks of Browning endeavor to explain the mechanics of human psychology. The motions of love, hate, passion, instinct, violence, desire, poverty, violence, and sex and sensuousness are raised from the dead in his poetry with a striking virility and some are even introduced with a remarkable brilliance.

Thanks to the changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution, so many people living in such close quarters, poverty, violence, and sex became part of everyday life. The absence of family and community ties meant newfound personal independence; it also meant the loss of a social safety net. The mid-nineteenth century also saw the rapid growth of newspapers, which functioned not as the current-events journals of today but as scandal sheets, filled with stories of violence and carnality. Hurrying pedestrians, bustling shops, and brand-new goods filled the streets, and individuals had to take in millions of separate perceptions a minute. The resulting over stimulation led, according to many theorists, to a sort of numbness. Notably many writers now felt that in order to provoke an emotional reaction they had to compete with the turmoils and excitements of everyday life had to shock their audience in ever more novel and sensational ways. Thus violence also became a sort of aesthetic choice for many creative people. Browning can be charged of also employing violence as a tool for evoking aesthetic brilliance but this is only at the superficial level. Because when it comes to the use of violence in his poems we find them as close to reality as reality itself. His poems show us the human passions in flesh and blood and he was not going to be one who denied the presence of violence as a potent human passion or one who presented it as something out of proportion just to create sensation. His incorporation of violence with other human passions was real just and fully understandable. Many of Browning's more disturbing poems, including "Porphyria's Lover" and "My Last Duchess," reflect this notion. In his poem “Porphyria’s Lover” we find Browning at his best. The poem is a love poem… but has a lot more to offer than just the bright sunny side of love. For Browning love was a passion, which had its destructive side as well. But this did not in anyway lessen or tarnish its reputation as being the purest emotion. In fact the destruction that mostly love brought on the characters of Browning’s poems was mostly due to other reasons like violence, may be.

Porphyria's Lover also demonstrates several of Robert Browning's defining characteristics as a poet. It contains his criticism towards the beliefs and practices of self-restraint and his traditional use of dramatic monologue to expose a single character's personality, which in turn often provides an additional depth to his works in coordination with his use of unpoetic language. Also taking into account the author's own personal experiences with his wife, the poem can also be perceived as a representation of the development of their relationship. Browning's criticism of the idea of self-restraint is evident throughout the poem "Porphyria's Lover" as it was shown in the internal debates both characters underwent as they decided whether or not they should consummate the love between them.

In Robert Browning's dramatic monologue, "Porphyria's Lover," the love-stricken frustrations of a nameless speaker end in a passionate, annihilating response to society's scrutiny towards human sensuality. Cleverly juxtaposing Porphyria's innocent femininity and her sexual transgression, Browning succeeds in displaying society's contradictory embrace of morality next to its rejection of sensual pleasure. In an ironically tranquil domestic setting, warm comfort and affection come to reveal burning emotional perversions within confining social structures. The speaker's violent display of passion ends not with external condemnation, but with...
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