Robert Browning's My Last Duchess And Porphyria's Lover

1294 words - 6 pages

Love is a topic that is known worldwide and is greatly debated each and every day. Although not everyone knows what love is, it’s is constantly incorporated in literature. All of the best poets and writers know how to utilize that concept and does it well. Jane Brody explains the importance of love when she writes: “When people fall in love and decide to marry, the expectation is nearly always that love and marriage and the happiness they bring will last; as the vows say, till death do us part.” One of the oddest forms of this writing is from Robert Browning’s texts My Last Duchess and Porphyria’s Lover. In My Last Duchess a man is talking to the painting of his wife, and describing how their love went cold. Porphyria’s Lover is about a couple who works in an odd way, but ends even worse. Through careful analysis of Robert Browning’s two dramatic monologues, the similarities of them include mental instability within the speaker along with strange love that is portrayed but they differ by the extremity of their actions.
First of all, both of Browning’s texts incorporate the idea of mental instability through the speakers. The famous quote is stated as: “Love is mad.” For the two texts presented, that definitely applies. Particularly in My Last Duchess, madness can be clearly assessed when the speaker begins to talk to his deceased wife’s portrait. This craze is described when Browning writes: “There she stands as if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet the company below, then.” (pg. 980 lines 47-48) He talks to the painting as though she was alive, which is just one example of craziness. Maria C. Lamia from Psychology Today expands on this concept when she writes: “When love involves an initial state of bliss, it can later make you feel sick or crazy whether or not the object of your affection has left your life. A surge of extreme pleasure and rapture is felt when it is activated, and you seem to transcend your self or merge with another person. Perhaps its evolutionary purpose was to attach people together regardless of rational thinking. When a blissful state is experienced, such as in an intense romantic encounter, the craving and need to recreate it can be powerful.” (Lamia, 2012) It is psychologically proven that love can drive a person to madness. The other text, Porphyria’s Lover portrays this same psychosis when the man consciously plans how to end his lover’s life.
Secondly, the theme of passionate love is endorsed throughout both of Browning’s dramatic monologues. Kendra Cherry describes the scientific data behind the idea of love when she writes: “Anthropological research suggests that love is a universal emotion. Love is most likely influenced by both biological drives and cultural influences. While hormones and biology are important, the way we express and experience this emotion are influenced by our personal conceptions of love.” (Cherry, 2014) Love is an emotion that is craved by every person, and it is no wonder...

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