Porphyria's Lover Essay

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In the following essay, Popowich examines the various meanings attached to the word "Porphyria," especially that of delusional madness and its meaning for Browning's poem.

If one examines such a standby as DeVane's A Browning Handbook, or the recent Oxford edition of The Poetical Works, one discovers no conjecture upon the name in the title of "Porphyria's Lover." While Robert Browning's poetry is undeniably well annotated, one of his most famous terms, "Porphyria," has not been glossed, apparently because its meaning has been taken as clearly the proper name of a female character. But, while Porphyria is certainly used as a character name, it is far from only that. The term resonates of alternate states of mind, for it is the name of a disease that brings delusional madness to its sufferers. (The disease also causes purple urine, hence the name which is based upon the Greek porphryos...

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This section contains 2,890 words
(approx. 8 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Porphyria's Lover Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Porphyria's Lover from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.