The Point of View in Porphyria's Lover
"Porphyria's Lover" is an exhilarating love story given from a lunatic's point of view. It is the story of a man who is so obsessed with Porphyria that he decides to keep her for himself. The only way he feels he can keep her, though, is by killing her. Robert Browning's poem depicts the separation of social classes and describes the "triumph" of one man over an unjust society. As is often the case in fiction, the speaker of "Porphyria's Lover" does not give accurate information in the story.
The speaker is a deranged man who will stop at nothing to keep his dear Porphyria. Although the introduction refers to the ...view middle of the document...
The speaker is upset about the party going on in the main house. Porphyria will be married soon, and he feels that if he were an upper-class citizen, Porphyria would be able to marry him. There is definitely much love felt between the two, and the speaker realizes that he will lose Porphyria if he does not do something. There is a sense of desperation felt by the speaker. He also feels that society's rules are very unjust and cruel. At the same time, though, it seems that the lover does not blame Porphyria for what is unfolding, but nonetheless, the speaker acts in a cold manner towards her. She, trying to cheer him up, puts his arm around her waist. During all this time, Porphyria seems to be happy but not necessarily about seeing her lover. The speaker says: "Happy and proud; at last I knew/ Porphyria worshipped me;" Unbeknownst to the speaker, she could have been excited about the party. This also comes to show that the speaker was out of touch with reality.
During the first part of the poem, Porphyria's lover is leaning against her shoulder. He is completely dependent upon her. This is where the lover shows that he is acting in a very cold manner, but he is actually trying to make the reader feel sorry for him. Shortly afterwards, he starts explaining the problem, and states his side of the story. The speaker begins to feel sorry for himself, and his frustration and fears begin to mount into an expected act of violence towards Porphyria.
The only thing that Porphyria's lover can think of is to strangle her with her own hair. By doing this, he believes that she will be his forever. The speaker also sees this as the next best thing to marriage. He is completely out of his mind, and thinks that she does not feel any pain when he strangles her. Robert Browning does an excellent job in emphasizing that Porphyria's lover is not sure if, in fact, Porphyria feels no pain. The speaker states: "No pain felt she;/ I am quite sure she felt no pain(Barnet 568)." By strangling Porphyria, the speaker believes that they will be together, and that everything will be better in the near future. It seems the speaker "witnesses the woman's apparently wholehearted love-(and) is also the moment that he attempts to preserve by killing her (Maxwell 28)." Of course, this theory could not be further from the truth, and this shows the reader that there is something wrong with the lover's state of mind.
Towards the end of the poem, it is Porphyria's corpse that is leaning on his shoulder. Her lifeless body is supported by her lover. From this point on, the speaker's insanity becomes more evident. The statements that the speaker makes are by no means believable. He is therefore consciously lying, or unaware of reality. The lover makes several statements about Porphyria expressing happiness after she was brutally strangled. The speaker states: "again/...