Women in 19th Century British Poetry Response: "Porphyria's Lover," "My Last Duchess," and "The Leper"
The feelings about women in the Victorian period were very disheartening. Women were seen as objects and viewed as less than human. These views were upheld by men who perpetuated a women's place in society as a pretty thing to look at and nothing more. When a man was tired of her or felt like he could not possess her completely he could kill her as the only way to ensure that she is his forever. The following poems (all written by men), are an insight into the minds of men during the 19th century. "Porphyria's Lover, "My Last Duchess," and "The Leper" are all poems where men kill their object of affection for not being able to fully have them or (as in the case of "The Leper") gloat about her on her death bed.
"Porphyria's Lover" starts out quite innocently with two lovers meeting in a little cottage. Porphyria is described as beautiful, sexual, and at the same time, innocent. She walks in from the storm and starts a small fire in the cottage fireplace making "all the cottage warm" (line 9). This could allude to Porphyria makes the cottage warm with her sexuality and causes the narrator of the story, the man she is meeting at the cottage, to sweat. She proceeds to seduce him further by taking off her cloak and shaw, letting her wet hair down, she puts his arm around her waist, and pulls her shirt of her shoulder so that she can rest his head on it. He seems completely unresponsive. She continues engaging him by telling him that she loved him, "murmuring how she loved me -- she/ too weak, for all her heart's endeavor/ to set its struggling passion free/"(21-23) She goes on to imply that she is of a higher class than he is. She talks about being afraid to "server" her pride and vain from ties (her economic background) but she remembers that he loves her and she did not want him to think that she did not love him back. "But passion sometimes would prevail,/...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document