Porphyria’s Lover, Poem
Madness is the main idea which is developed in the dramatic monologue, “Porphyria’s Lover” by Robert Brawning. In the poem, the narrator’s lover leaves a high class party and walks through the forest in the middle of a wild and windy night to be with him. He realises that she will never abandon her aristocratic life, so he then kills her with her own long blonde hair. After sitting all night with her, cuddling her dead body, he suggests that she is actually happy to be dead. This shows he is totally mad. The poet uses a variety of techniques to explore the narrator and his life.
The form of the poem helps us to see how mad the narrator of the poem really is. The genre of the poem is a dramatic monologue. There is only a stanza in the poem and this means that there is no interruption’s which helps us understand the speaker and how controlling he is. Another technique that Brawning uses to ensure that nobody else has a chance to speak is enjambment. The rhyme scheme is ‘ABABB’ this means that the first and last word on the first and third line rhymes and the second, fourth and fifth line.
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The fact that the rhyme scheme is repeated throughout suggests he is a very calculating and not quite as random as a madman might be. Where the action takes place in this dramatic monologue helps us to understand more about the instability of the speaker. His cottage is in the middle of a forest, right beside a small late. He’s a game keeper, this means he looks after the forest, he make’s sure everything’s ok, he’s the police man of the forest. This will come between him and Porphyria as they are completely different people, he is much more lower class than she is and that didn’t happen often.
Robert Brawning uses personification to create the creepy atmosphere of the poem. Brawning suggests the weather is alive as he describes the weather in a very ferocious way. Making out that it is a violent and fierce. The narrator tells us “The sullen wind was soon awake” This implies that the wind suddenly broke out and was mad and alive. The narrator feels frustrated and angry. We know this because he describes the weather like this which implies that he is projecting his feelings onto the weather, telling us how he feels through the weather. The poet uses figurative language to convey the speaker’s feelings throughout the poem.
He writes “As a shut bud that holds a bee, I warily opened her lids” he’s telling us that her eyes are like bee’s when there are trapped in a bud, furious wanting to get out, so it’s the bee is frustrated so he’s comparing it to porphyria suggesting he’s worried her eyes will be filled with anger. This shows us that he’s worried about what he has done and he knows that it was the wrong thing to do. He’s worried that when he opens her eyes she will look angry and upset with him. This suggests he still has control over himself and his madness isn’t as random as he would want us to believe.
The theme of control runs throughout the poem, helping us to understand the speakers motivations in the murder, Porphyria enters the cottage at the start of the poem and started undressing at the door. She goes through to where her lover awaits her and she starts to take control over him. He tells us “She put my arm about her waist, And made her smooth white shoulder bare, and all her yellow hair displaced, and stooping made my cheek lie there” This helps us to understand his feels of emasculation because in the victorian times woman would never be expected to behave in this forward way.
Porphyria has just come home from a “gay feast” which is a higher class party for all the posh adults. He’s a much lower class man so he must stay at home, waiting on Porphyria, wondering what she’s getting up to at the party. This makes him feel like she is better than him and more important so that makes him feel powerless; he knows their affair will always remain secure and furtive. The speaker feels he needs to take control over her and step up[ and be the man. To do this he kills Porphyria and re arranges her body so he’s the one in control over her. He explains “that moment she was mine, mine, fair, perfectly pure and good”.
He is saying he’s getting his masculinity back, saying that he can do what he wants now instead of Porphyria, and now that “This time my shoulder bare her head” he feels that their relationship is now as it should be. The character of the narrator is shown to be bad through the way that he speaks about Porphyria. He is obsessed with the idea of her cleanliness. This first time he introduces this idea is when he mentions “The soiled glove” which perhaps a reference to Porphyria herself. He also ways “laughed the blue eyes without a stain” this suggests he thinks Porphyria is clean now and that she had a dirty stain about her before.
He seen other in her eyes and wasn’t innocent atoll. This shows us that he is actually the dirty one. At the end of the poem, as he is sitting cuddling her dead body, he mentions God, he says “and yet god has not said a world! ” this is unclear because it would mean two things. Firstly that God thinks he has done the right thing but more disturbingly it also suggests that he knows he will be punished for his actions, this would suggest he is not as mad as he would have us believe. In conclusion I think Robert Brawning uses a variety of techniques very successfully to convey the personality of the speaker.
I think the way Robert Brawning projects his feelings onto the weather helps us to understand how he’s feeling throughout the poem also think the narrator is mad and a very confused man. I think it was the fact he had been out down by the beautiful higher class woman and felt small his masculinity had been taking from him so he killed Porphyria to get that back and take control. I really enjoyed this poem as you would of never thought by the first few paragraphs that in the end he would kill Porphyria. It was really surprising you just didn’t expect that to happen but was a very catching poem.