Porphyria's Lover

  • Created by: Bethb310
  • Created on: 15-01-20 10:49


  • An unknown narrator; NOT Browning himself. This has a specific effect which I'll go over shortly. 
  • The perpsective of a sociopath.
  • Victorian male perspective.



  • The title was changed from 'Porphyria' to 'Porphyria's Lover' 30 years after publication. This seems to be stressing to the reader that Porphyria and the narrator are not married; it is an illicit affair. 
  • It's an affair that they partake in often; Porphyria methodically shuts the windows and lights the fire, as if she's done it multiple times. 


Language Devices Used

Pathetic Fallacy - To introduce the poem, the narrator percieves the weather as being 'sullen' and 'spiteful', even going so far as to 'vex' the lake. This happens before Porphyria even arrives in the poem, and therefore can be used to analyse the mental state of the narrator. He personifies nature, and is paranoid that the weather is against him, which portrays him as unstable and deluded. You could explore this futher, and suggest that Porphyria walking through the storm portrays her 

"When glided in Porphyria" - The use of the word 'glided' paints an almost holy image of the woman, and can also be used as religious imagery. 

Poetic Inversion - On this same line, Browning puts the subject (Porphyria) after the verb (glided), which is uncommon for English sentence structure. It emphasises the word 'glided'. This can suggest multiple things. Firstly, that the narrator's perception of Porphyria is more relevant to him than Porphyria herself; secondly, that the readers are meant to be immediately introduced to her as an angelic feature.

Symbolism - Porphyria closes all of the windows to the cottage, suggesting on the surface that she stops the house from getting wet, but more figuratively, that her warm presence shuts out the paranoia in the narrator's mind. This makes his angry response to her entry stranger, which shows that he is an unstable narrator.

Porphyria also lights a fire, which creates the same symbol of her as a creator of warmth and safety for the narrator. But for some reason, he does not want this safety. 

"And, last, she sat down by my side". - The discourse marker 'last' is bracketed by commas, which shows the narrator's frustration that this action (involving him) was the last one that she did. He irrationally wants to be


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