The Purpose of this Blog

Your task on this blog is to write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was ill or missed the lesson can catch up with what they missed. Over the course of the term, these 'class scribe' posts will grow to be a guide book for the course, written by students for students.

With each post ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is this good enough for our guide book?
2) Will your post enable someone who wasn't here to catch up?
3) Would a graphic/video/link help to illustrate what we have learned?

Sunday, 4 March 2012

'Porphyria's Lover' by Robert Browning


Interpret the principal aspects of ‘Porphyria’s Lover’
Apply this analysis in answering an Aa question

We first considered different actions lovers might take if they could not be with their love, for example: write a song, move on, win them over.

Reading the dramatic monologue 'Porphyria's Lover', we were able to recognise key moments when Porphyria enters the cottage, when the man responds to her declaration of love, the strangling, followed by the final scene, where the emotionally unstable man recognises an absence of punishment.

Students retold the narrative pictorially in order to engage with the narrative, which was successfully reduced.

The following model for Aa answer was shared:

Browning also establishes characters who contrast with one another to anticipate what will happen to Porphyria at the hands of the dominant male character. The man is introduced as an emotionally unstable listener: ‘I listened with a heart fit to break.’ The metaphor ‘fit to break’ reinforces how fragile his emotions are for the rain and ‘sullen wind’ may break his heart. Porphyria, on the other hand, is described according to her actions: ‘straight / She shut the cold out and the storm, / And kneeled and made the cheerless grate / Blaze up’. Anaphora here emphasises Porphyria’s listed actions. Because the man is thoughtful whereas Porphyria is active, the two characters are set up as conflicting. This contrast between the two central figures helps establish an opposition which is at the heart of the narrative: all of Porphyria’s actions are stopped as a result of the man’s instability.

Students recognised that the topic sentence does more than identify an aspect and say it 'helps to tell the story'. We focused on ensuring the topic sentence shows a clear link to the narrative in hand: it should be specific, interesting and track connections from previous paragraphs.

Together, the class wrote the following paragraph analysing the aspect place:
Browning also uses place in order to set up an atmosphere which reflects the narrator’s unstable emotional state. Pathetic fallacy creates a physical portrayal of the male’s chaotic emotions: ‘The rain set early in to-night, / The sullen wind was soon awake’. The personification of the ‘sullen wind’ introduces the idea of a depressive atmosphere which is beginning to arise. Porphyria tries to make the atmosphere inside the cottage comfortable, yet the dark atmosphere seems to make what happens to Porphyria inevitable. Place initiates a sense of foreboding, making the reader aware that the narrative will have tragic or fatal consequences.

It was helpful to note before beginning writing that for the narrative, place reflected the man's dark emotions. This helped to focus our analysis of the aspect's function for the narrative of Porphyria's murder.

Next steps:

Students are to comment on this blog and then add their homework, another paragraph analysing character, voice or key moment.

New revision sessions:

From Tuesday, all students will be required to attend after-school revision sessions from 3.30 - 4.30pm each Tuesdays. These classes will be treated as normal lessons and therefore attendance is mandatory. The sessions will focus on exam preparation.

Mr Gall


  1. Character: The form of dramatic monologue is used through the aspect of character, in order to allow the narrator to portray his inner feelings within the poem. Repetition is used in the poem to show just how possessive Porphyria's lover is of Porphyria herself. "The moment she was mine, mine", suggests a slight element of uncertainty over his current position, with this uncertainty disappearing when he cleverly justifies his actions with the same statement. This is because he believes that if he can't have Porphyria to himself, nobody can. This repetition can also suggest anger, as the narrator could feel as though he has gone on long enough always being second best, and is now set on ending this by killing Porphyria.

  2. Voice is used by Browning to convey the male’s possessiveness; this is shown through the interior dramatic monologue form. Repetition is used in line 36 to show the fullest extent of the male’s dark thoughts, and in tow the crazed actions he will go to in order to ‘own’ Porphyria. “That moment she was mine, mine” shows the power of the male and his dominance over a vulnerable Porphyria. The contrast of her “smooth white shoulder” to the dark thoughts of the male is also a portrayal, equally showing her innocence to his possessiveness. After the strangling, the male begins to list his actions which could also symbolise his possessiveness, for he sees her as an object of which he owns. “I warily open her lids, / , I untightened next the tress about her neck, / , I propped her head up” all show the sudden lack of affection for Porphyria, and increasing sense of ownership. Voice and in this poem, interior dramatic monologue allows us to gain knowledge of how the character is feeling and his most inner emotions towards Porphyria.


  3. Using dramatic monologue, Browning develops the male character who acts as a narrator in the poem. Interior dramatic monologue is included in order to convey the male’s feelings throughout. Browning includes repetition in the line ‘that moment she was mine, mine, fair.’ From this, the male can be identified as rather possessive, as he is clearly addressing Porphyria as someone he owns. This poem consists of one stanza. This suggests that the male has a lot of emotion inside, and is attempting to release it. This idea is also supported through Browning’s use of enjambment, as there are few stops, allowing the poem to flow, similarly to the male character’s emotions. Homodiegetic narration is included within this poem, as the narrator is a part of the story he is telling, meaning the reader establishes how he is feeling. From this, the male can be identified as rather self-centred as he claims ‘I am quite sure she felt no pain,’ which shows that he is unaffected by other’s feelings, and only focuses on his, and his own interpretations. This is also expressed through the use of first person narration, as this displays the importance of the male’s thoughts and feelings. The male character helps to tell the story within the poem by expressing rather selfish and inconsiderate beliefs, which help to build the foundation of Porphyria’s death, the main part.


  4. Browning's use of dramatic monologues gives us insight into the male characters feelings, the language on porphyria's constant movement when she enters the cottage shows how the man actively focuses on everything she does while in his presence. When he says in line 7 "she shut the cold out and the storm" he highlights how her arrival is everything to him, and how much he loves her, and also how she fixed his "heart set to break" with her company. This love of porphyria turns to possessiveness in line 17 when porphyria "made her smooth white shoulder bare" this sexual image of her bare skin shows how he views porphyria, and begins to want her all to himself. his possessiveness is later highlighted again when he repeats to himself that "she is mine, mine" the repetition re-enforces how he now owns porphyria who belonged to another man, as the title states "porphyria's lover" suggesting that porphyria owns the man, which turns out to be the total opposite of the end of the poem in which the man believes he now owns porphyria forever. also the three sections that the poem could be split up into could show the change of dominance between the two lovers, with the first part being in porphyria's favour with her constant movement, the next her murder as dominance is transferred to her lover for the third section.

  5. so as a dramatic monologue and interior monologue, we gain understanding of the emotion and stability of the narrator.
    we can only hear the lovers voice which showing that we can only hear what he wants us to hear. his voice shows greed and insanity 'the moment she was mine, mine' the repetition of mine shows he is obsessed with her and can not lose her

  6. Robert Browning uses key moments in order to reinforce the possesive characteristic of Porphyria's lover. This is illustrated through the use of repetition in line 36; "she was mine, mine...". This reveals her lover's love towards her and how she doesn't want to let her go. However, he has to let her go as she wears the "soiled gloves",which connotes impurity and promiscousity.

    Lisa (:

  7. The title 'porphyria's lover' conveys a sense of ownership in that porphyria owns her lover, hence empowering the female character, evidently therefore the reader is not in expectation of porphyria's fate at the end of the narrative.

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