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Critical Anaylsis of Porphyria’s Lover

Critical Anaylsis of "Porphyria’s Lover"


Brilliant poets surface many times by creating their individual styles of writing. They obtain their glory from their crafted masterpieces designed in ways like no other. Such is the case of Robert Browning and his dramatic monologue. Starting with “Porphyria’s Lover”, he went on to perfect this form authoring many famous works in the process. This poem, once a collection under the title, “The Madhouse Cells”, depicts an unhealthy affair from a madman’s perspective. In Robert Browning’s dramatic monologue, “Porphyria’s Lover”, imagery carefully illustrates the struggle for control between two lovers drawing the reader into their twisted relationship with evidences of insanity.

In the beginning lines of the poem Porphyria’s nonverbal communication displays her control over her lover. Finding him in his usual state of psychosis, concentrating on the storm outside, Porphyria enters and assumes her role of dominance obvious to the reader that she has been to this place many times. The poet writes, “She shut the cold out and the storm,” (7). Upon the entrance of the woman, she brings life into his cold, dark room replacing isolation with artificial comfort. She has the power to alter his mood. Her lover says, “[She] made the cheerless grate/ Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;” (8-9). Porphyria has the ability to transform his surroundings just by standing in the room with him. She, full of life, is seen as the opposite of her lover who is lost deep into madness. He goes on, “When no voice replied, / She put my arm about her waist,” (15-16). She calls to him, but is unable to reach him and receives no response. The woman plays the part of a man in their interaction when she physically forces her lover to reach out and touch her as if he is paralyzed. Paralyzed by madness, seeing her in front of him, knowing she is in control drives him farther away as it shows him his impotence and inability to totally possess her. This serves as a symbol for their entire relationship. “She brushes back her long her long, gold hair, pulls his cheek down upon her bare shoulder (which she has exposed with deliberate calculation), and finally spreads her hair over his head and face. He is encased in...

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Category:   Poetry

Length:   6 pages (1,364 words)

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