The poem is a dramatic monologue by Robert Browning. Notably, the poem revolves around the speaker and his fallen lover, Porphyria, who he just killed. To begin with, the poem accentuates the tumultuous weather of the previous night when he was expecting his lover to pay him a visit in his cabin, by the lake or the countryside. Moreover, Porphyria’s arrival was preceded by her departure from a society party that cut across the visit’s expectations of people from her class. Noteworthy, she gets to the cabin all cold and wet but she puts up a fire to heat up the cottage. Further, she moves closer to the narrator and affirms that her love for him cannot be deterred by the storm. Besides, the speaker looks at her face and is convinced by the degree to which she worships him but he also remains aware that after the moment she will return to a society where she has to live by certain expectations.
The purity of the moment overwhelms the speaker and he takes her hair and strangles her with it. Further, the speaker asserts that Porphyria’s death was painless. After her death, the speaker ensures that the corpse is laid out in a graceful pose as her lifeless head rests on his shoulder, eyes open. Also, the speaker remains convinced that his actions can be justified on the basis that he had granted her a desire that permitted them to be together without worrying about the society. Overall, his conclusive remarks highlight that even God is yet to say a word in opposition to his actions. It is worth noting that the poem highlights three main takeaways: subjectivity/truth, delusion and the link between morality and art.
To begin with, the prevailing philosophy in Browning’s poem that is consistent all through his work is that humans are not characterized by a fixed perspective, but are rather engulfed in contraindication that gradually changes over time. Thusly, a wise man is set to acknowledge that different people have varied world views from within, and these perspectives are also subject to change. Notably, the poem as a dramatic monologue advances this implicit argument by affirming the remarkable human tendency to rationalize one’s attitudes and behaviors. For instance, the speaker is engulfed by the will to remain true to his actions when he affirms that he helped Porphyria enhance the probability of them being together forever. Further, the speaker highlights that even after her demise he is convinced that she worshipped him and indeed her eyes could confirm it. In this view, subjectivity/truth remains restrained to an individual’s perspective while exploring through different points of view depicted in the poem.
The second argument drawn from the poem is the aspect of delusion and how it has been used efficiently as a literary device to enhance Browning’s dramatic irony in the poem. Noteworthy, dramatic irony constantly fuels the speaker’s delusion by making the audience aware of an aspect that the speaker is clueless about. Moreover, dramatic irony explores through a situation where the speaker appears deluded or is not in a position to realize certain truths that the audience can evidently see. On the whole, the poem features a character who is demented and is also unaware of the degree to which they are insane. Also, it is worth noting that the narrator is not necessarily demented but rather, they are glued to their own perspectives such that they are unaware of why the society would perceive them differently. For instance, after the narrator strangles Porphyria, he goes on to open her eyes and even picks her up and props her lifeless head on his shoulder. Nonetheless, such illustrates some delusional attributes about Browning’s male character in the poem.
Finally, the third significant argument about the poem is the interconnection between morality and art. Generally, Browning’s work poses a fundamental question on whether an artist is automatically bound to be moral and whether artists should be in a position to judge the respective characters illustrated through their creations. In particular, the poem is centered on an evil character who commits murder. Also, Browning’s dramatic monologue structure of the poem allows him to distance himself with the actual creations in his poem; expressing his voice through a fictional character allows Browning to explore through evil without necessarily tagging himself as an evil person. In general, his characters function as personae that allow Browning to take on various traits while telling a story about a rather horrid situation. In this view, the narrator in the poem ideally gets away with murder and the audience is left to pass judgment on the morality of the character.
In summary, Porphyria’s lover is a noteworthy poem that draws some influence from romantic poetry and progressively engages the audience in a dramatic monologue that illuminates the lives of Browning’s characters. It is worth noting that the dramatic monologue approach successfully allows the reader to engage in the mindset of different characters as well as their varied perspectives. Also, there are certain arguments highlighted by the poem such as the link between morality and art, where Browning maintains a depiction that allows the audience to pass judgment on the character but maintains freedom and free-will from the narrator’s perspective. Thusly, having an ingrain comprehension of the thought processes and the feelings of the characters in the poem allows the audience to empathize, and in this case, understand the motivations behind their perspective.