Foreshadowing in Porphyria's Lover

Foreshadowing Examples in Porphyria's Lover:

Porphyria's Lover 5

"elm-tops..."   (Porphyria's Lover)

Elm trees have a long history in mythology and literature and are symbolic of many things. Among those, elms have often been used to represent idyllic life, with the shade cast by their broad leaves as a place for coolness and peace. That the sullen wind rips down the elms portrays the tone and mood as menacing, heightening the tension regarding what’s to come.

"rain set early..."   (Porphyria's Lover)

Browning begins by setting the scene and foreshadowing events to come. First, his use of the adverb “early” indicates that there is something different about the night in question. Second, rain has many symbolic meanings in literature: from rebirth and cleansing, to tragedy and death. So, their combined use creates a tone of expectation and tension. As readers, we are prepared to experience some kind of event that will follow through on this premise.

"displaced..."   (Porphyria's Lover)

Notice again that in focusing on the woman and her actions, the speaker removes himself from the center of the narrative. Readers might lose sight of the speaker and his odd, passive role because of this style of narration. The careful reader should take this narrative style as a warning that there is something being hidden from them.

"no voice replied..."   (Porphyria's Lover)

When Porphyria arrives, her lover is sitting in a dark, cold room as a storm rages outside. He is unresponsive even to his own name. This should strike the audience as odd. However, because of the romantic imagery and focus the speaker places on his lover rather than his feelings, the reader may not notice his behavior is odd the first time they encounter these lines. The careful reader will see that there is something peculiar about this speaker.

"Porphyria..."   (Porphyria's Lover)

In naming the woman of this poem “Porphyria,” Browning implies a connection between this relationship and savage monsters. If one of the lovers in the relationship is a “vampire,” then someone is a predator and someone is its prey. This comparison casts an ominous tone over the poem and foreshadows a dark turn.