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Porphyria’s Lover by Browning and The Sisters by Tennyson

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  • Category: Love

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Jealousy and obsession are themes that occur in the poems ` Porphyria’s Lover ` and ` The Sisters `. Browning and Tennyson were both writers who wrote in the Victorian era. But they came from different backgrounds. Browning was middle-class and lived in London, where as Tennyson was poor and lived in Lincolnshire. As they were contempories they wrote poems about things that were popular at the time. Both of the poems are Dramatic monologues, but ` The Sisters ` takes a ballard form. Because ` Prophyria’s Lover ` does not take the form of a ballard and reads in one whole verse it reads like a confession.

The time that they were writing in was heavily industrialised and was very dark. This lead to a lot of murders and muggings. Because of this the public was very interested in horror and murder and as Browning and Tennyson’s poems were about this they were extremely popular. In ` Porphyria’s Lover ` the narrator is very jealous of Porphyria. This may be because she is very much higher than him in society, so they couldn’t be a couple because if anyone found out she would be a fallen woman. When the narrator realises that he could never have her for real, he strangles her with her own hair after she says that she loves him.

Pathetic Fallacy gives us a good idea of the mood of the poem. “The rain set early into night, the sullen wind was soon awake, it tore from the elm tops down for spite, and did its worse to vex the lake. ” Straight away this gives the reader a picture of an unsettled atmosphere, and also expresses the narrators mood as quite dark and disturbed. Porphyria also has a strong effect on the narrator. “She shut out the cold and the storm, and kneeled and made the cheerless grate, blaze up and all the cottage warm. ” It is like she has a warming effect on him, which shows how much he loves her.

This is also the first we to hear of his obsession with her, this is because it is like as if she comes in and everything is better. The narrator has strong feelings for Prophyria. “I listened with heart fit to break. ” This is as if he is eagerly waiting for her. This is also another example of his obsession with her, because it seems he has nothing else to do but wait for her to come round for the odd visit when she can. Because she is higher in society she calls the shots in the relationship. The main reason why the narrator eventually kills Porphyria in the end is because they can’t be together. From pride, and vainer ties dissever, and give herself to me forever. ”

In the quote it explains how Porphyria can’t be with the narrator because she would have to drop down classes to be with the lower class narrator. If she did this she would be a fallen women and would be disgraced. Therefore she doesn’t want to do this because of the harsh consequences that she would face. This could also where we can start to see the narrator being jealous of Porphyria because of her higher social standing. Again he is so obsessed that he doesn’t care what happens to her, he just wants to be with Porphyria.

Eventually the narrator strangles Porphyria with her own hair. “Three times her little throat around, and strangled her, no pain felt she. ” This is where the narrator kills Porphyria. He kills her as a result of his jealousy and obsession. He is so obsessed with her that he wants to keep her there forever so she doesn’t have to lower herself. He is also jealous of Porphyria’s higher class, and the fact that he isn’t the man in the relationship, and now that he has killed her he is in control. After he kills her he unwrapped her hair from around her neck.

Then says, “About her neck her cheek once more, blushed bright beneath my burning kiss, I propped her head up as before, only this time my shoulder bore. ” This is where the narrator is giving Porphyria kisses and cuddling up to her. It is like he is saying to her that he has got her forever. At the end of the poem the narrator gets over confident. “And all night we have not stirred, and yet God has not said a word! ” Here the narrator thinks that he has got away with the murder of Porphyria, and that he is again, so obsessed with her that he is just going to sit there all night with her.

In `The Sisters ` one of the sisters is jealous of the other sister because she finds the other sister better looking than her. The result of this jealousy between them is the jealous sister kills the other sister. Then because the remaining sister is really obsessed with the Earl, she kills him as well! Because of these two murderings, it portrays the sister as psycho. Pathetic Fallacy, like in ` Prophyria’s Lover ` gives us the sound of dramatic weather “The wind is blowing in turret and tree. ” Again it gives us a view of a slightly unsettled atmosphere where it could get worse.

The weather also reflects the effect that the Earl has on the sister. As the poem goes on the weather gets worse. “The wind is roaring in turret and tree,” “The wind is raving in turret and tree. ” This is reflecting the mood of the sister because when the wind is “roaring” that is when they slept together, and when the wind is “raving” that is just before she is going to kill the Earl. This shows how obsessed with the Earl she is because she progressively gets more obsessed to the point of killing him.

The sister had strong feelings towards the Earl. “I hated him with the hate of hell. ” The sister could hate the Earl so much that she is obsessed with hating the Earl. This is similar to ` Porphyria’s Lover, ` because like in ` Porphyria’s Lover ` the narrator is obsessed with Porphyria, but because the narrator loves her so much. One of the reasons that could have lead to the Earl’s death could have been to the Earl not trusting the sister because she could have found it funny that she killed her own sister.

“The wind is howling in turret and tree. The sister says this after she kills her sister for being too pretty. So the howling could be a form of laughter. In this she could be accused for being jealous of her sister and because of this she ended up killing her. But she only became jealous of her sister because she was so obsessed with the Earl that she found her sister as a threat. On the other hand in ` Porphyria’s Lover, ` the narrator is jealous of her higher standing in society. This isn’t the case in ` The Sisters, ` because “ancient blood” which suggests that they are the same class.

She kills him while he is in his sleep with a dagger. “Three times I stabb’d him tho’ and tho’. ” The sister ended up killing the Earl because of her massive obsession with him. In contrast the narrator in ` Porphyria’s Lover ` kills Porphyria because he is jealous of her. Despite this the two poems share the same amounts of times that they carried out the repeated attacks. “Three times her little throat around” and “Three times I stabb’d him thro’ and thro’. ” After the death of the Earl the sister “Curl’d and comb’d his comely head.

It is like it has now all finished and she has finally calmed down a little, and she is sitting with the body of the Earl near to her. This could be because the sister is obsessed with the Earl that even after his death she still wants to be near him. The sister’s mood is again reflected in the weather. “The wind is blowing in turret and tree. ” Throughout the poem the weather has had a full circle of emotions. Similarly after the narrator kills Porphyria the mood seems to go calmer as well in ` Porphyria’s Lover, ` and makes the reader feel like the narrator believes that he has got away with it.

At the end of ` The Sisters ` she ” Wrapped the body in a sheet, and laid him at his mothers feet. ” “His mothers feet” could be that the sister has put the body of the Earl underneath a painting of his mother in the house. Or that now he is dead he can now be looked after by his dead mother. Also “O the Earl was fair to see,” is used at the end of every verse. But even after the Earl is dead the sister still says this, which again shows how obsessed she is with him.

Both ` Porphyria’s Lover ` and ` The Sisters ` dealt with Jealousy and Obsession as their main themes. ` Porphyria’s Lover ` is more involved in jealousy as its main feeling, this is because the narrator was always jealous of Porphyria’s higher social standing. Compared to ` The Sisters, ` where this concentrates on obsession. This is because the sister was so obsessed with the Earl that she would stop at nothing to keep he Earl hers forever. Also now that the Porphyria and the Earl are dead, the narrator and the sister are now in control.

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