A man sits alone in a cold cottage on a stormy night. Porphyria, his lover arrives. He ignores her flirting because he’s angry with her. He decides she loves him and hence she belongs to him. He wants to preserve the moment so he strangles her with her own hair. He spends the rest of the night with her dead body

Ideas and Themes:

  • Longing
  • Destructive love
  • Death

Structure:

  • Events in the poem mirror each other. At first Porphyria is active and dominant while her lover is passive. At the end the roles are reversed.
  • Poem is all one long paragraph showing immense longing and desire.

Form:

  • Poem is a dramatic monologue. The asymmetrical rhyme scheme (ABABB) and enjambment shows narrator is unstable.
  • The regular rhythm shows his calmness.
  • Porphyria has no voice only the narrator speaks and voices his own thoughts and opinions.

Language:

  • “The sullen wind was soon awake”: Pathetic fallacy creates a threatening and ominous atmosphere
  • “Shut cold out…Cheerless grate…Blaze up and cottage warm”: She has a huge positive effect on the Narrator showing she is special. Contrasts with weather
  • “Let damp hair fall”: Female sexuality was oppressed in Victorian times. Woman who did this were called fallen women. Letting her hair down would’ve been seen as sinful
  • Repetition of “And” shows how he’s chronologically recalling the murder
  • Repetition of “Yellow hair” shows his obsession and foreshadows her death
  • “From pride and vainer ties dissever” He is upset by her lack of commitment. But he is unaware the relationship is probably more difficult for her than it is for him
  • “Nor could tonight’s gay feast refrain” She left a party to see him, this shows her longing and desire but also shows he isn’t part of social gatherings with her. Possible secret relationship
  • “She was mine, mine fair” Repetition of mine is disturbing as it shows immense greed and possessiveness. He wants her to be his only
  • The description of him strangling her is systematic and matter-of-fact showing he sees nothing wrong with this.
  • “So glad it has its utmost will…That’s all it scorned” He refers to her as “it” she’s only an object to him now

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