"Porphyria's Lover" by Robert Browning - Questions and answers concerning the key aspects of the poem

Essay by strawberriislusheeHigh School, 12th grade October 2007

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Question 1: Describe the personality of the lover. Support with evidence.

As the poem "Porphyria's Lover" progresses, the lover establishes a distinctly repulsive character for himself. It is evident that this man has a sadistic personality, accompanied by a twisted sense of perception that is fueled by a gnawing insecurity within his own personality. The elongated vowel sounds in the line, "In one long string I wound/ Three times her little throat around" delay the actual strangling, suggesting that he relishes in his cruel decision and, is in fact, toying with her before he kills her. In reiterating the notion that he was "quite sure she felt no pain" we are subject to the warped and twisted thinking he uses to justifies his actions. As we grow to understand his persona throughout the poem, we notice the shift from an eerie passiveness in his character, to the possession of cruel power and the intention to kill.

His power is emphasized through the contrast between his strength and Porphyria's "little", fragile throat. This suggests a comparison between the lover and a hungry, selfish predator that lurks in the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on its prey. He makes his capture in the moment when Porphyria worships him and he declares her to be "mine, mine" before he locks this perfect moment in a time frame forever by killing her. More disturbing is the fact that he plays with Porphyria's dead body and imagines that she "blushed bright beneath my [his] burning kiss" as if he is giving her renewed life, highlighting the derangement in his way of thinking. His final remark "and yet God has not said a word!" leaves us in disbelief and shock- it is a ludicrous idea to believe that the murder of...