Historical Context in Porphyria's Lover
Sexuality in Victorian Society: English poet Robert Browning lived during the vast majority of Queen Victoria’s reign, making him an exemplary writer of the Victorian era and its ethos. One of the hallmarks of Victorian culture was sexual restraint and an overarching sobriety of conduct. The dark side of such repression was an obsession with sex; Victorian London had more brothels than schools and some 80,000 working prostitutes. “Porphyria’s Lover” is a poem that reveals the culture’s dark view of sexuality. Porphyria, with her overt sexuality, represents the kind of woman the Victorians shunned. All in all, the sexual material in the poem would have been viewed as taboo by Browning’s contemporaries.