3 March 2013
Critical Analysis of “Porphyria’s Lover” by Robert Browning
Robert Browning wrote “Porphyria’s Lover” in the 1830s. The speaker is Porphyria’s lover and he speaks in a very solemn tone. The poem never divulges the two characters’ real names. The mood is grim and despondent throughout the whole poem. The speaker in the poem shows through many ways that Porphyria yearned for her death, through the spontaneity of her murder, his solemn demeanor, her sickly symptoms, and the smile that was on her face when she was killed.
The mood is very dismal and melancholy. It begins with a description of a storm approaching. This sets the overall tone of the poem. “The rain set early in tonight,/ The sullen wind was soon awake,/ It tore the elm-tops down for spite,/ And did its worst to vex the lake:”(698). The speaker seems to be in a solemn mood because he is troubled with what he is about to do. He is preparing himself for the horrific crime he must commit. When Porphyria sits beside him, he does not respond to her when she speaks to him. “And, last, she sat down by my side/ And called me. When no voice replied, /She put my arm about her waist”(699).
The speaker hints that something is wrong with Porphyria. He states that she has passion for him, but is too weak to express it, even though she has done so before. “Murmuring how she loved me--she/ Too weak, for all her heart’s endeavor,/ To set its struggling passion free”(699). Illness is evident in Porphyria when her lover claims that she is pale and his love for her was “all in vain”(699). “A sudden thought of one so pale”(699). His love for her was futile and hopeless because of her failing health and he knew they would not be together for much longer.
The speaker was not yet decided upon what he wanted to do with their situation. “Porphyria worshiped me: surprise/ Made my heart swell, and still it grew/ While I debated what to do”(699). The act of taking her...
Cited: Best, J.T. “‘Porphyria 's Lover’ — Vastly Misunderstood Poetry.” The Victorian Web. N.p. 8 June 2007. Web. 6 March 2013.
Browning, Robert. “Porphyria’s Lover.” 1836. Compact Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. 8th ed. Ed. Kirszner and Mandell. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2013. 698-700. Print.
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