Unrequited Love in "Porphyria's Lover"
In Robert Browning's dramatic monologue "Porphyria's Lover," he introduces the persona, a twisted and abnormally possessive lover whose dealings are influenced by the perceived deliberation of others actions. As the monologue begins, a terrible, almost intentional storm sets upon the persona, who awaits his love, Porphyria. His lover "glide[s] in" (l 6) from a "gay feast" (l 27) and attempts to calm her angry love. This leads to a disastrous end, either for spite or fulfillment of a figurative wish that "would [now] be heard" (l 57). Browning suggests one must be cautious of what one wishes for, ...view middle of the document...
The aforementioned sentence foreshadows the events to come.
Porphyria enters from the storm into her lover's home, "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" (l 6-9), permitting the persona to feel safe in within himself and his surroundings. She sat by his side "And called [him]. When no voice replied, / She put [his] arm about her waist, / And made her smooth white shoulder bare, / And all her yellow hair displaced" (l 15-18). The above quotation can be seen as a reference to sexuality, the showing of skin and a ruffled look to her hair suggests eroticism.
A rigid social class that presents difficulty within the relationship separates the speaker and Porphyria. Porphyria's name suggests purple. "Purple" comes from the Greek word porphura, which is a species of shellfish that yielded a dye called Tyrian Purple (Funderburk). The process of making the dye is expensive and normally used for
clothing belonging to royalty. This draws a parallel to Porphyria, not only in name, but also in reference to the "gay feast"(l 27), and her "struggling passion free / From pride,
and vainer ties dissever" (l 23-24) suggesting an upper class lifestyle. Porphyria's social class, although advantageous, will ultimately lead to her demise.
The narrator could not deal with Porphyria's social class. Once he knew "Porphyria worshiped [him]; surprise / Made [his] heart swell, and still it grew / While [he] debated what to do" (l 33-35). This debate, over continuing to live in an un-enjoyable manner, or to murder Porphyria as a means of finally being together, was resolved in his choice of murdering Porphyria. This is evident in the quote: "In one long yellow string I wound / Three times her little throat...