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Transcript of Porphyria's Love
7 May 1812 – 12 December 1889
English poet and playwright
One of the foremost Victorians poets
His fame today rests mainly on his dramatic monologues,
The words not only convey setting and action but also reveal the speaker's character.
Unlike a soliloquy, the meaning in a Browning dramatic monologue is not what the speaker directly reveals but what he inadvertently "gives away" about himself in the process of rationalising past actions to a silent auditor in the poem.
Is an epic-length poem
He justifies the ways of God to humanity through twelve extended blank verse monologues spoken by the principals in a trial about a murder. T
His monologues greatly influenced many later poets, including T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.
The work was a best-seller in its day.
The Victorian Period describes the events in the age of Queen Victoria’s reign of 1837-1901.
The term Victorian has connotations of repression and social conformity.
The Victorian age provided a significant development of poetic ideals such as the increased use of the Sonnet as a poetic form, which later influenced modern poets.
Dramatic monologue in poetry, also known as a persona poem shares many characteristics with a theatrical monologue:
1. An audience is implied;
2. There is no dialogue
3. The poet speaks through an assumed voice—a character, a fictional identity, or a persona.
Because a dramatic monologue is by definition one person’s speech, it is offered without overt analysis or commentary, placing emphasis on subjective qualities that are left to the audience to interpret
For the Victorians, modernity meant numbness: urban life, with its constant over-stimulation and newspapers full of scandalous and horrifying stories, immunized people to shock.
In light of contemporary scandals, the sexual transgression might seem insignificant; so Browning breaks through his reader’s probable complacency by having Porphyria’s lover murder her
Thus he provokes some moral or emotional reaction in his presumably numb audience.
He seeks to remind us of the disturbed condition of the modern psyche.
Porphyria is an incurable blood disease that disables and kills thousands every year. It is often referred to as mental illness or the Royal Disease
Symptoms of Porphyria's disease are repeatedly described within the poem by Browning, e.g. blood loss ("gone so pale"), muscle weakness ("too weak to set her passion free") and light sensitivity which explains why she arrived at night ("rain set in early tonight") .
Porphyrias lover is a shocking dramatic monologue. From the poem, the speakers lover is a beautiful white blonde woman who comes in out of a storm to make fire and enlighten the mood of the speaker in his cottage. Porphyria enters the cottage, takes off her gloves, unites her hat, let's her hair fall and gets comfortable. She takes a seat by the speaker and calls his name but he doesn't respond. She then shows him affection, lays his head on her shoulder and begins to tell him how she overlooks societal strictures to be with him. Once he realized how much power he has he then wraps her hair around her neck & strangles her. He now puts her head on his shoulder and just sits there with her dead body.
Murmuring how she loved me—she
Too weak, for all her heart’s endeavor,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me forever.
But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could tonight’s gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.
Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshiped me:
Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.
And I untightened next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propped her head up as before
Only, this time my shoulder bore
Her head, which droops upon it still:
Sex violence and aesthetics
Like many Victorian writers, Browning was trying to explore the boundaries of sensuality in his work.
How is it that society considers the beauty of the female body to be immoral?
Why does society see both sex and violence as transgressive?
What is the relationship between the two?
Which is “worse”?
These are some of the questions that Browning’s poetry posits. And he typically does not offer any answers to them: Browning is no moralist, although he is no libertine either. As a fairly liberal man, he is confused by his society’s simultaneous embrace of both moral righteousness and a desire for sensation.
ARE THERE ANY QUESTIONS ?
Poets in the Victorian period were influenced by the Romantic Poets such as Keats, William Blake, Shelley and W.Wordsworth.
Victims of Porphyria's disease suffer a horrible death, thus Porphyria's lover committed the highest act of love; he set his lover free from a grisly death.