Monday, March 29, 2010

Porphyria's Lover & Its Underlying Meaning

As I read Porphyria's Lover, I was definitely surprised at the ending. I knew it wasn't going to be happy but I didn't expect him to strangle her and then take her body and make it seem like she was resting on his shoulder... I propped her head up as before, Only, this time my shoulder bore/Her head, which droops upon it still (lines 49-50). He continues to touch her like she was still alive...I warily oped her lids...her cheek once more/Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss (lines 44-48). It is creepy to imagine a person manipulating a dead body that way, especially since her killed her. This poem is in the collection Men and Women, which Browning dedicated to his wife which I think is interesting. But what is the meaning behind this poem? Is it a social commentary and warning for women and their behavior? Or is it a critique on both genders since the the man killed her?

Nature also plays an important role in the beginning of the poem and describing the cottage and storm. Porphyria shows her love for him by coming to his cottage in a storm. She also risks her social standing because it was considered inappropriate for her to conduct herself in this manner.


  1. I was also somewhat perplexed by this poem and with Childe Roland. I can see how it could be read as either social commentary on women or both genders, and maybe even a critique on love to show that love is flawed because it always ends with one of the lovers dying. However, I was also struck that these two were in a collection of poems for Christman Eve and Easter, which makes me think that they are somehow a critique on religion rather than women's behavior or both genders, especially since Childe Roland contained so many biblical and religious references. Is Childe Roland about the child crusades?

  2. Thanks for your comment, Sam. I thought it was also strange that the collection referenced Christmas Eve and Easter but I never thought it might be a critique on religion. I can see that with Childe Roland but the other one doesn't contain as many religious references so I fee like it must be some type of social commentary.