Analysis of Porphyria's Lover
Sullen wind, down for spite, did its best to vex the lake
The narrator starts of the poem off by using the technique of pathetic
fallacy--providing the weather with human emotions.
The wind not only blows, it is also "sstrr.JPGullen" and "awake."
It knocks down trees "for spite" and tries its best to annoy
the lake. It's obviously not just a dark and stormy night outside.
Since wind is not able to feel emotion, it appears that the narrator
is coloring the outside environment with his own internal emotions. He feels gloomy and spiteful himself, not the wind.



Porphyria
Porphyria, in the medical world, is "a genetic abnormality of metabolism causing abdominal pains and mental confusion." Likewise, in "Porphyria's Lover," Porphyria seems to be
a source of pain and mental anguish for the narrator-- which he can find only one cure for.


Made the cheerless grate
The first thing that Porphyria does when she enters the narrator's
house is light his fireplace. She does this even before she takes off
her soaking wet coat and gloves. She seems to care very much for
the narrator and puts his comfort before her own. The narrator calls the fireplace a "cheerless grate," before Porphyria comes over. It's as if she gives his home a sense of "home."


Let the damp hair fall
When the narrator notices Porphyria's hair, it foreshadows what
will occur at the end of the poem. He calls it the damp hair, not her damp hair. It's as if she doesn't posses it herself.

Made her smooth white shoulder bare
The narrator acts as if Porphyria intentionally exposes her shoulder, but it could just be that the narrator is watching her
as she moves about. She may have not been trying to
purposefully catch his eye. Even so, he takes it as his belief
that she "made" her shoulder bare.

Made my cheek lie there
Once again, the narrator alludes to the fact the Porphyria "made" something happen. This time, she made him become enveloped in and entranced by her hair. He is making it seem that Porphyria is forcing him to submit to glancing at her and lying on her.

Too weak
Even though Porphyria is able to "make" him do things against his will, she is still weak. She is "weak" because she is not willing to enter a fully commited serious relationship with him. Perhaps she is young and wants more freedom before she settles down. Whatever the case, the narrator is not happy with Porphyria's announcement and he sees her independence from him as weakness.

And give herself to me forever
The narrator shifts to thoughts about possession. He wants to possess Porphyria forever, and now that she just spoke to him about "not
being able to set her passions free," he is afraid he's going to lose her.

And all in vain
He feels that their whole relationship has just been in vain. Porphyria appears to be the one coming out on top since she is in control of where their relationship is heading.

I looked up at her eyes
Similarly to how the narrator noticed Porphyria's hair when she first walked in, looking at her eyes also foreshadows the end of the poem. This time, he believes that he can sense from Porphyria's eyes that she worships him.

Worshiped me
The narrator wants to believe that Porphyria worshipped him with her eyes when she walked in to his house. She may have been to an
extent, she does seem to care about him. The narrator, however, is slipping more and more into a possessive dominator.

That moment she was mine, mine
Here we see that the narrator wants to fully possess Porphyria and keep her all to himself.

Perfectly pure and good
He thinks that Porphyria is only pure and good when she is submitting to him.

I found
The narrator "finds" a way to kill Porphyria. Although he may have thought about killing her before, he never pre-meditated it to be done in this way.

As a shut bud that holds a bee
After the narrator kills Porphyria, he looks into her eyes to make sure there is no life in her left. As she lies there asleep, he sees her body as a beautiful bud. The life inside her, however, that has the potential of being alive is seen as a bee. He is associating life with pain.

Laughed the blue eyes without a stain
It it beginning to become apparent that the narrator is not fully aware of what is truly taking place. He sees Porphyria's dead eyes as "laughing," happy to be dead. He also seems them "without a stain": without any sign of hatred or malic towards her killer.

My burning kiss
While the narrator didn't kiss Porphyria during the whole scene while she was alive, he decides to take it upon himself to kiss her after she's dead. He calls it a "burning" kiss. "Burning" is usually associated with desire and passion. It's strange that he finds this passion in kissing a completely and utterly submissive woman.

Only, this time my shoulder bore
The narrator seems proud of the fact that the woman now lies on his shoulder, while earlier on in the poem it was the other way around.

So glad it has its utmost will
Porphyria is now referred to as an "it." The narrator believes that her will has been fulfilled because now he fully dominates over her.

Her darling one wish would be heard
He is fully convinced that it was her one wish to lose her sense of independence to become completely under his power.

God has not yet said aword!

The narrator finds it strange that God doesn't praise him or punish him after he murders Porphyria. It probably justifies his act in his mind.


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References

1. Image: Grace, Sina. Strangle. <http://bp1.blogger.com/_GpXqfSnyEtE/R1N-0NFMHJI/AAAAAAAAAGg/c-03So6czPo/s1600-R/Strangle_by_SinaGrace.jpg.>
2. "Definitions of Porphyria." WrongDiagnosis. 4 Oct 2008. WrongDiagnosis.com. 9 Dec. 2008, <http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/p/porphyria/intro.htm>.


Contributors

Sarah Stevenson