PosterĄG E.K. Tan at 23:53:54 3/1/98 from h145.s118.ts.hinet.net
|Porphyria's Love by Robert Browning
By E.K. Tan 484011617
The poem starts with the speaker describing Porphyria. With the introduction of a fierce, stormy night, I saw Porphyria appearing as a blend to nature, while she 'Shut the cold out and the storm made the cheerless grate braze up, and all the cottage warm." It seems that she has the ability and strength to take charge of nature. From this, I came around with two opinions. Firstly, there's a possibility that Porphyria is a woman of strength and power, her strong character enables her to manipulate her partner. The other possibility could be Porphyria knowing that her lover is mentally unstable, revealing her motherly traits while tending to her lover's needs. In either case, I would not disregard the fact that Porphyria loves the speaker as she came all the way undergoing wind and storm wetting her just to keep him out of cold.
On the other hand, the speaker, too, revealed his love at the beginning of the poem: "I listened with heart fit to break," Porphyria is of great importance to him. However, when Porphyria was by her side calling him, he did not reply. I regard this as the speaker, haunted by insanity, is in a state of distraction, he might not be paying real attention to Porphyria due to different possibilities of reasoning, it could be having bland in his mind or even cultivating thoughts of means which he could use to presume his love. Follows on, the stanza describes how Porphyria shows her passion by putting the speaker's "arm about her waist" and makes his cheek lie on her "smooth white shoulder." From another view, the speaker was portrayed as a child-like character, enjoying the guidance of a mother-like Porphyria. From the care and concern Porphyria applies on the speaker, possibility that the speaker is insane or merely having mental unsuitability seems true.
Although Porphyria expressed her love verbally and physically, the speaker seems rather insecure. He has the impression that Porphyria's attempt is just too weak to sever her pride and vanity from her passion from him, thus making the speaker uncertain of whether he is able to keep his lover long. Porphyria's pride and vanity seems like the biggest treat to the speaker. It is either it makes the speaker uncertain about her truthfulness or it has built up the strong character of Porphyria which the speaker feels has hindered her expression of love.
The speaker even explains that the arrival of Porphyria "through wind and rain" is just "a sudden thought," a prevalence of Porphyria's "passion." However, this still made him "proud and happy," at least he thinks that Porphyria is worshipping him. He ended up with the notion of preserve this love by committing murder.
Insecurity and possessiveness contributed to this obsession of love. The speaker strangled Porphyria with her hair. Porphyria is a bee and he the bud, in the closing stage has Porphyria all to himself. The speaker's insanity has totally overcome him. He has blended into the soul and body of his lover, whereby he could understand all her senses and feelings, for example, "I am quite sure she felt no pain," taking into account that the strangled face "blended bright beneath my burning kiss," etc..
"And all night long we have not stirred, and yet God has not said a word." This is a statement that proved his insanity. It is true that the speaker has his lover by side forever, but through the means of murder. He did not think that he is committing a crime as he spent the whole night together Porphyria without being disturbed and most of all without disagreement of God. This seems ironical as God does not go around telling people their fault, it is up to individuals to learn their mistake.
Like the duke in My Last Duchess, the possessive character in the male characters eventually caused them to view their beloved ones as an object more than being. They wanted their beloved ones to belong to them exclusively just like the speaker says "that moment she was mine, mine, fair, perfect, pure and good." In order to keep the ladies to themselves or even away from others, these men chose dreadful endings.
There is a great sense of egoism in the speaker. He's too proud of his love and even after killing her, he still pictures her head "as a smiling rosy little head, so glad it has its utmost will." To the speaker, Porphyria is happy to have gained him, her love, in the form of death. He even states proudly that Porphyria should not have thought of her wish being heard. It seems like this egoistic man have given her the best or what she actually wanted. In the lines, "and all her yellow hair displaced and spread, o'er all, her yellow hair," Porphyria's hair has covered the speaker's head, which is lying on her bare shoulder. It seems like the speaker as a male character was overpowered by the female. As I have mentioned in the first few stanzas, the female character is stronger, the speaker tried to turn over the situation by saying "as a shut bud that holds a bee." The roles changed as the speaker overpowered Porphyria by keeping her by his side "forever." Just like the duke who would not stoop in front of her last duchess, eventually "gave commands; then all smiles stop together."
From my personal view, I portray the hair of Porphyria as the image of her power, pride and vanity. She uses it to surround her love and put him under her control. It is her power, pride and vanity that causes her death, in conjunction with this is the using of her hair as the object of murder.
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