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Satire in Porphyria's Lover

Satire Examples in Porphyria's Lover:

Porphyria's Lover

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"we sit together now..."   (Porphyria's Lover)

Porphyria’s murder can be seen as the speaker forcing a woman who defies the social restraints placed on her agency and sexual desire into the conventional role of a Victorian woman. In this way, Browning’s poem can be read as satirical. His speaker enforces the expectations placed on female sexuality in a shocking and horrifying way in order to reveal the shocking and horrifying nature of the rules themselves.

"God has not said a word!..."   (Porphyria's Lover)

The Victorian social code of conduct was heavily shaped by religious practices. Premarital sex, female agency, and desire were all condemned because they were seen as sinful actions through the eyes of the Christian church. In ending with a reference to God’s inaction, the poem mocks both religion and the social codes it creates. That “God has not said a word” suggests a type of approval of the speaker’s actions. Since the speaker enforced the Victorian moral code, he paints God as on his side. Browning uses this final line to satirically point to the hypocrisy of the church’s policing of female bodies.

"Her head, which droops upon it still..."   (Porphyria's Lover)

Notice the satire behind this shocking murder. The speaker robs this seemingly independent and sexually liberated woman of her agency by murdering her. In murdering her he is able to regain his power and force her back into the submissive role Victorian women were supposed to inhabit. To be compliant with social roles, the speaker commits this terrible murder. In this way, the poet mocks the strict social rules that ruled Victorian society and the strict enforcement of these rules: they are just as suffocating as the woman’s long blonde hair.

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