Unrequited Love in "Porphyria's Lover"

Topics: Porphyria's Lover, Robert Browning, William Shakespeare Pages: 3 (952 words) Published: April 4, 2001
Unrequited Love in "Porphyria's Lover"
In Robert Browning's dramatic monologue "Porphyria's Lover," he introduces the persona, a twisted and abnormally possessive lover whose dealings are influenced by the perceived deliberation of others actions. As the monologue begins, a terrible, almost intentional storm sets upon the persona, who awaits his love, Porphyria. His lover "glide[s] in" (l 6) from a "gay feast" (l 27) and attempts to calm her angry love. This leads to a disastrous end, either for spite or fulfillment of a figurative wish that "would [now] be heard" (l 57). Browning suggests one must be cautious of what one wishes for, especially in dealings with love, where one focuses on the heart rather than material consequences.

Romantic poems, plays and stories from the Victorian period in England dealt primarily with forbidden love. A class system set strongly in Browning's "Porphyria's Lover," or an aged bitterness between two families in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," both prevented lovers from living "happily ever after." In literature it can be argued that there are two ways to come together with a lover. The first is death, as seen in Shakespeare's dramatic plays and poetry, and the second is sexual. "Porphyria's Lover" is a reflection of both.

Shakespeare's story of "star-cross'd lovers" begins with a prologue summarizing what events lead to the death "From forth the fatal loins of these two foes" (Hylton). Here the "ancient grudge [that] break[s] to new mutiny, / Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean" leads to the foes' "children's end" (Hylton). In "Porphyria's Lover," the parallel of nature's tremendous storm, and the persona's own thoughts elude to his plans: "The rain set early in tonight, / The sullen wind was soon awake" (l 1-2), his thoughts began to mold into a scheme, while his rage corresponds with the storm as "It tore the elm-tops down for spite, / And it did its worst to vex the lake"(l 3-4). The...

Cited: Browning, Robert. "Porphyria 's Lover." Poetry: A Longman Pocket Anthology. Ed. R.S. Gwynn. 2nd ed. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc, 1998. 128-130.
Funderburk, Laura E. "A Palette of Colorful Expression." Color Perception. http://www.insteam.com/LauraFunderburk (27 Mar. 2001).
Hylton, Jeremy. "Romeo and Juliet." The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. 1993. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/romeo_juliet/index.html (27 Mar. 2001).
Hylton, Jeremy. "Othello, the Moore of Venice." The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. 1993. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/othello/index.html (27 Mar. 2001).
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