Porphyria's Lover Essay

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In the following essay, Burduck studies "Porphyria's Lover" within the context of "traditional vampire lore."

For some curious reason scholars have virtually ignored the Gothic features of Robert Browning's "Porphyria's Lover." In the poem, Browning, familiar with the horror literature of his day (especially the lore lying behind such poems as Keats's "Lamia"), creates a dramatic soliloquy in which the speaker attempts to justify his murder of Porphyria by suggesting that she was a vampire. Throughout the work, he selects particulars that reinforce this view, for if he is convincing that he has killed a vampire, he believes he can absolve himself of guilt.

The first clue to Browning's strategy is the connotations of Porphyria's name. Three variations of "Porphyria" known during the nineteenth century shed some interesting light on the poem. According to Murray, the noun "porphyre" designates a type of serpent, while the adjective "porphyrian" pertains...

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This section contains 812 words
(approx. 3 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.