Reader Response 1 - 1 Reader Response 1 Porphyria’s Lover...

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1 Reader Response 1: Porphyria’s Lover Robert Browning, in the poetic piece “Porphyria’s Lover” describes the night of an encounter between a woman, Porphyria, and her unnamed “lover.” However, this poem raises a variety of questions to the reader that seem to go unanswered until the text is further analyzed. Questions that may arise include who Porphyria is, why her lover decides to kill her, and who the speaker, “lover,” is talking to. When first reading the text of the poem, the first question one may ask is, “Who is Porphyria?” and “Where did she come from?” Upon initial reading, these questions may seem to be unimportant, unclear, and even unanswered. However, assumptions can begin to be made when examining Porphyria’s actions and the time period in which the poem was written. The piece was written during the Victorian era, which raises many questions regarding some of the things Porphyria’s does. “Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl…She put my arm around her waist, And made her white shoulder bare” is an example passage from the text that one may use to assume the very likely possibility that Porphyria is not nearly a lover, but a harlot/prostitute. This is said because Victorian women were known to extremely modest and would not show a bare shoulder as she did. Likewise, a woman would likely not insinuate a flirtatious or sexual situation because sex to the Victorian woman was considered adulterous and only to be a duty rather than a pleasure.
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