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Porphyria's Lover Essay

725 words - 3 pages

Porphyria’s Lover, under the name Porphyria, was first published in a magazine named Monthly Repository. It appeared again in Dramatic Lyrics together with Johannes Agricola in Meditation. Significantly both the poems were published under the common title Madhouse Cells. Written in the same format of octo-syllabic lines like the other ‘madhouse’ poem, Porphyria’s Lover deals with the abnormal psychology of a person who justifies his murder. But the poem is much more complex than Johannes Agricola as the final realization of the poem remains equivocal. Where Agricola rejects the authority of the Gospels, Porphyria’s lover breaks one of God’s Ten Commandments that,
“Thou shall not kill.” The ...view middle of the document...

Of course, in his abnormal state he could not understand that his move from thought to action is illogical.
If we follow the lovers narrative, we find that it is frequently couched in monosyllabic words, describing Porphyria’s every move and look in a carefully controlled manner. Entering the cottage she ‘‘kneeled and made the cheerless grate/Blaze up, and all the cottage warm”. At this point it must be said that the reader cannot be sure of what kind of woman Porphyria is. The speaker either carefully avoids disclosing her true identity or finds it psychologically troublesome to do so like a confirmed psychiatric patient since it is an unpleasant fact. What his speech betrays—“vainer ties dissever”—makes her identity and position in the society all the more equivocal. We cannot be sure whether she was a married woman or not. One thing is, however, clear that she belonged to the higher stratum of society than the speaker.
Symbolically Porphyria’s rekindling of the fire serves as a commonplace figure for the lovers instantly aroused desires. Welcoming her passion and worship of him, which he responds with ‘surprise’, the lover debates...

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