How does Robert Browning convey key themes and ideas in Porphyria’s Lover
In one of Robert Browning’s earliest dramatic monologues, Porphyria’s Lover, he explores the mind of an anonymous insane male lover. Browning uses an array of poetic techniques to convey power and madness through the thoughts and feelings of the speaker. The ideas brought forward in this poem are in response to the Victorian society’s scrutiny towards human sensuality and the importance of social class.
Porphyria’s Lover is a poem that narrates the shift of power in a relationship. This is shown when Porphyria, who initially has the upper hand in the relationship, metaphorically “shut[s] out the cold and storm” as she is able to juxtapose the effect the storm has had on him by making the cottage warm. However as Porphyria makes “her smooth white shoulder bare” to her unresponsive lover, the reader is able to know the speaker’s zealous thoughts on Porphyria’s apparent “weakness” and unability to give herself to him “forever.” Thus foreshadowing Porphyria’s death and suggesting that she’s neither as powerful nor as free as she was portrayed earlier in the poem.
Browning uses time to symbolise the shift in power, as the roles become reversed and the speaker has the upper hand. The lover resolves to eternalise “that moment” when he realises “Porphyria worships” him by “strang[ling] her with her hair”. Ironically he killed her using a trait he admired most about her.
Through the use of monosyllables, Browning has written the majority of the poem in a simple “iambic pentameter” creating a steady beat and reinforcing the speaker’s sense of his own sanity as he speaks of his despicable acts. This structure juxtapoeses the disturbing events depicted in thr poem and highlights the point that Browning was trying to get across; madness is a complex phenomenon that is not easily identified as one.
The audience is able to determine that the unkown narrator is mentally unstable when he repeats that she...