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"Porphyria's Lover"

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Kelsey Nicholson

on 7 November 2014

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Transcript of "Porphyria's Lover"

The speaker of the poem is portrayed to be a madman because of the cruel murder he commits to his lover
It becomes clear he did not kill her out of anger or hatred
His lover is ill and despite having deep feelings for her, he murders her to put her out of her misery
He saved her from human nature
The speaker committed the highest act of true love; putting her out and setting her free from a horrible death
He is debated as a hero for the crime he committed because he did this out of pure love for her and would rather her be free and gone from his view, than have her continue to suffer with him in a deadly disease
Porphyria is blood disease in which mental illness is just a symptom

Even though he loves this woman, his disease (porphyria) causes him to kill her. This disease changes the speaker to a sinister murderer.
Figurative Language
"The sullen wind was soon awake
It tore the elm-tops down for spite" (line 2-3)
"As a shut bud that holds a bee" (line 43)
"In one long yellow string I wound" (line 39)
eneath my
urning kiss" (line 48)
Personified wind: “ the sullen wind was soon awake,/ it tore the elm-tops down for spite,/and did its worst to vex the lake.” (lines 2-4)
Pale when alive, rosy when dead
Paradox: loves her but kills her.

Meaning & Significance
This was written during the Victorian period which explains the dark, Gothic elements. Porphyria is a disease that incites madness. The speaker is claiming that his love for this woman has driven him insane, thus naming himself Porphyria’s lover.
"Porphyria's Lover"

Tone and Mood
Sound Devices
Multiple Choice Quiz
“ That moment she was mine, mine, fair, // Perfectly pure and good: I found // A thing to do, and all her hair //In one long yellow string I wound // Three times her little throat around, // And strangle her. No pain she felt; // I am quite sure she felt no pain” (36-42)

“And I untightened next the tress
about her neck; her cheek once more
blushed bright beneath my burning kiss” (46-48)

ABABB Rhyme Scheme
Common Theme: Evil and Violence
Natural Flow of the poem meant to invite the reader to read more
Iambic tetrameter
Cite Sources
“When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
and kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;” (6-9)

Lines 1-5: Harsh
With Porphyria:Soft
The poem begins during a stormy night in an isolated cottage. The speaker is unbalanced speaker and refers to his lover as a disease. They meet in the cottage and as they realize their great affections, he strangles her with her own hair. He then proceeds to spend the night with her corpse.
The speaker admires the woman therefore the tone remains positive throughout the work even after he kills her
The mood shifts from gloomy and dark to positive then shocking and disturbing
The swift change in tone does not change the mood
Robert Browning
Question 1
What does the speaker show by murdering his lover?
a. Insanity
b. True love
c. Creativity
d. Happiness
e. Hope

Question 2
What does image does Browning create on lines six to nine?
a. A warm cottage in a storm
b. A tree in the wind
c. A dark storm
d. A pretty woman
e. A cold wind blowing

Question 3
What is the shift that occurs in lines 36-42?
a. Happiness to Anger
b. Anger to Happiness
c. Murderous to Peaceful
d. Dreary to Spiteful
e. Loving to Psychotic

Question 4
What is the tone of the first half poem?
a. Spiteful
b. Positive and cheerful
c. Happy
d. Negative and Dreary
e. Depressed

Question 5
What kind of image is given to the speaker throughout the poem?
a. A psychotic madman
b. A perfectly sane man
c. A loving husband
d. A man that takes no risks
e. A dead man who is rotting in the ground
Full transcript