The Story as Told in "Porphyria's Lover" Essay

Submitted By svoutt
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How is the story told in Porphyria’s Lover?
Porphyria’s Lover is a dramatic monologue told in the first person by an eponymous narrator – porphyria’s lover. This poem tells the story of a psychotic character who strangles his illicit partner porphyria in order to overcome the obstacle of class in their relationship so they can be together forever, when the poem begins Porphyria is already dead. Browning narrates the poem from the lover’s point of view but always describes Porphyria as more dominant and important. The first five lines of the poem use pathetic fallacy as a terrible storm outside is personified by the words “sullen” “vex” “spite” these words come under the semantic field of negative emotions and act as a metaphor for the speakers mind without Porphyria, the next line “I listened with a heart fit to break” breaks the consistently of the ABABB rhyme scheme as it is the first line which highlights his melancholy state. This is immediately contrasted with the entrance of Porphyria as she “glided” in to his room this is the first positive verbs and conveys a very elegant and graceful movement which portrays how she brings a sense of calm and happiness in to his life; this is further emphasis as “she shut out the cold and the storm” giving the man a sense of warmth.
As soon as Porphyria enters she “makes the cheerless grate blaze up” meaning she is lighting the fire, this gives Porphyria and the lover a sense of familiarity as she has clearly been there before. However it is brought to the reader’s attention that the speaker must have been sitting in the dark, this image of a man sitting in the storm waiting is abnormal and foreshadows that there is something very odd about this man. When Porphyria enters he lists every movement that she makes for example “withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl and laid her soiled gloves” this portrays a very obsessive nature of the man for recounting all of her movements. From the first description of Porphyria the reader learns she is wearing a “shawl” ”cloak” “gloves” and a “hat” conveying she is of a high-class and social standing in society, this is even portrayed through her movements when she “made her smooth white shoulder bare” and “made my cheek lie there” showing she positions her lovers head on her shoulder making the her higher position than the narrator, also it is Porphyria physically moving her lover and taking control of him. However, at the very end of the poem after her death it is very interesting that the lover propped her up so that his “shoulder bore her head” thus conveying that the status of power has switched putting the narrator at a higher position than Porphyria and contrastingly he is now the one controlling her.
The most disturbing thing about the narrator is his logical, calm and nonchalant attitude towards killing Porphyria. The narrator describes was too weak to “set its struggling passion free from pride and vainer ties” assumingly the vainer ties being her class and social background and the narrator was strong enough to dissever these ties for her. As soon as the narrator realises Porphyria truly loves and “worships” him he is happy however the inner conflict remains concerning their illicit relationship and her social standing. From…