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Porphyria's Lover Real Or Imaginary Place

1398 words - 6 pages

Choose a poem that deals with a real or imaginary person or place.
Show how the person or place is introduced and how the techniques used give a convincing portrayal of that person or place.
In your answer you must refer to the text and to at least two of: characterisation, imagery, word choice, tone, or any appropriate feature.

One poem that deals with a imaginary person is 'Porphyria's Lover' by Robert Browning. The poem, in the form of a monologue, depicts a scene surrounding two lovers, with the main focus on Porphyria throughout the first thirty lines, and then on her lover in the second thirty lines. This portrays a sense of dominance of Porphyria in the first half of the poem, ...view middle of the document...

Browning adds to this already regular rhythm by displaying iambic tetrameter throughout the poem, which highlights the sense of familiarity that has developed in the poem. This use of iambic tetrameter, in addition the regular ABABB scheme, creates a sense of certainty an security, as well as making the reader feel like the speaker and the poem is predictable. Browning uses this created sense of security to highlight the madness of the speaker when he murders his lover: when he strangles her, there is no change of rhythm or rhyme and no signal from the speaker that something remotely out of the ordinary has happened:
" Three times her little throat around
And strangled her."
This reveals to the reader the true personality of the speaker, which provides a dramatic contrast to the impression of a vulnerable, victimised man that Browning had already established. In addition to this, Browning's use of enjambment creates a further sense of direct address and familiarity between the reader and the speaker, which then further highlights the fact that his rhyme and rhythm patterns do not change during the murder of his lover. This then highlights to the reader the insanity of the speaker and furthers their understanding of his personality. Browning also uses a caesura to create pause, which adds to the dramatic effect of the description of the murder created by the use of steady rhythm and rhyme.

Another of the main features contributing to the portrayal of the speaker is Browning's use of structure and content. He uses these to convey the personality of the speaker, which aids the reader in the discovery of the speaker's madness and insanity. The poem is sixty lines long, and split into two halves. These halves greatly conflict in mood and tone, which helps to convey the two conflicting halves of the speaker's personality, in addition to the sudden change of the speaker's character in the second half of the poem. In the first half of the poem, Browning introduces the speaker as a victim, and conveys the idea that Porphyria plays the dominant role in their relationship. The main indicator of this dominance is the lack of action shown by the speaker, and the fact that the majority of the first half depicts a scene of Porphyria cleaning and moving around and then says little about the speaker himself:
"she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soil'd gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall"
This repetition of Porphyria's actions without mention of the speaker emphasises the idea that Porphyria is the main focus of the poem, and that the speaker is quite significant in it all. However, as the poem is a monologue and it is the speaker himself talking, the repetition of Porphyria's actions over his own shows the speaker considers what Porphyria does to be more interesting and more important than what he is doing. This gives the reader the impression that the speaker is quite passive and reserved,...

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