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Porphyria's Lover - Robert Browing

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Manpreet Kaur

on 22 March 2014

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Transcript of Porphyria's Lover - Robert Browing

Voice in the text & narrative perspective
- Browning has employed an unreliable narrator for this poem, which is already suggested through the fact that the speaker hasn't been given a name.

- The use of an unreliable narrator is also in a way, an excuse for the insanity of his actions.

- Browning uses the narrations naturally poetic flow as a device to emphasise the unexpected and shocking turn in events.

Plot, time & sequence
Plot summary:
The speaker who lives in a cottage in the countryside is talking about his lover who is a young woman names Porphyria, she comes in during a storm and behaves romantically/ sexually towards the speaker and he does not say a word back to her but takes notice of how she worships him. He fears that she will bow into society's pressures and leave him so he instead he strangles her with her own hair. Then he is left playing with her corpse which is propped up beside him with the whole night as god has not yet moved him as a punishment.
Setting - scenes & places
- The setting of this poem has been described in more ways than one. First there is the storm that is going on outside where ti is very windy and cold as told in line 7 "She shut the cold out and the storm" and also "The sullen wind was soon awake, It tore the elm tops down for spite" written from lines 2-3.

-Browning also makes the readers aware that the character are in a "cottage" as stated on line 9, which is by a lake (line 4).

-Inside of the cottage the setting first comes across as rather chilly but then warms up and becomes more cozy when Porphyira enters at ignited the fireplace on line 9 "Blaze up, and all the cottage warm"

- Browning sticks to his traditional use of dramatic monloges to expose a single character.

- In the case of this poem it used to help characterise Porphyria's lover. The speaker is nameless and this creates a sense of anonymity. Making the character have no name evokes a sense of mystery and suggests to the readers that he as a character is not trustworthy as we do not actually know who he even is.

-Porphyria's character is represented through her innocent femininity and her sexual transgression. Juxtaposing the nameless killers destructive response to society's outlook on human sensuality.
Destination, purpose & effect
- The purpose of the poem is to voice Browning's opinion on society and how Porphyria's love might be transgressing against her position in society and how she must struggle in order to set her "passion free from pride".

- This is because it would appear that Porphyria is from a higher social class than the speaker and her death could be interpreted as a social leveler because now that she is dead it makes her social class irrelevant.

- Browning was trying to show to his readers, specifically those from the Victorian time that love should not be restricted by social class.
Style and Vocabulary + Themes
- The poem is a dramatic monologue, with a rhyming scheme of ABABB, which is kept consistently throughout the poem. This can be said to mirror the controlling nature of the nameless speaker.

- Themes in the poem are ; death, love, society & class, power and sin.

- http://www.shmoop.com/porphyrias-lover/quotes.html
Porphyria's Lover - Robert Browing
Time & sequence:
By the end of the poem we realise that actually the speaker is talking about events that have happened earlier that day to him and is now sitting down recounting it once everything has occurred and he is sat with the body of the women whose life he took.
Full transcript