Tone in Porphyria's Lover
Tone Examples in Porphyria's Lover:
", and all in vain:..." See in text (Porphyria's Lover)
The punctuation in this section convolutes the meaning a little. Essentially, readers should know that the comma after “prevail” and after “her” are setting off a different clause, or sentence. This clause is situated within the larger statement, which can be written “But passion sometimes would prevail … and all in vain.” Reading the line this way, we can see how Porphyria’s passion would take her to her lover “sometimes” but that these encounters were “all in vain”; that is, nothing real or meaningful came from them. This establishes the idea that the two lovers have met in such ways many times before, but they have failed to consummate, or act upon, their love. Since Browning finishes this line with a colon introducing Porphyria’s appearance on such a night, we are drawn into suspenseful anticipation to see what awaits these two lovers on this dark, stormy night.
"elm-tops..." See in text (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.
"Porphyria..." See in text (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.
"storm..." See in text (Porphyria's Lover)
The speaker conjures a romantic image here with the sublimely malevolent storm raging outside his cozy cabin and the effect this storm appears to have on his nerves. The poem begins situated in romantic tropes and imagery that lead the reader to believe the poem will involve romantic themes such as individualism, imagination, and the idealization of love and nature.