In that her “rosy little head” lies

In his poem, “Porphyria’s Lover,” Robert Browning illustrates a suspenseful love story told through a dramatic monologue. A young woman, Porphyria, rebels against “pride and vainer ties” as she confesses her love for the narrator. However, he shockingly kills her because of his desire for control. The intense affair that is their love is told with Porphyria being the focus in the beginning and the narrator the focus of the end.     Initially, Porphyria is the focal point of the poem, with her power in the relationship clearly expressed. The first five lines of the poem describe the weather Porphyria battles to reach her lover. The “sullen wind…tore the elm-tops down…and did its worst to vex the lake,” as Porphyria heads to her lover’s cottage. Normally, it is the man’s fight to go to the woman, but here there is a reversal. Once she arrives, Porphyria is shown to be the main instigator of the relationship. She begins all of the seductive action, as she puts her lover’s arm around her waist and bares her smooth white shoulder. The sexual intensity emanates from Porphyria, as her lover remains silent. Realizing that she “worships” him, the narrator decides it’s time to take control. It is not enough for her to love him; he must have ultimate power. Looking into her loving eyes, the narrator states, “she was mine, mine.” The repetition of the word mine indicates his deadly possessiveness. As he strangles his lover, the narrator is feeling extreme control. The intense dominance he feels after the murder is asserted, as the narrator exclaims, “and yet God has not said a word!” He now stands above his lover and God. In the end, the narrator believes he has Porphyria’s love, as he desires, forever. Her love will remain frozen as in the moment she died.  All is right now that her “rosy little head” lies on his shoulder, and not the other way around.


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