Robert Browning: Poems

Individual against Society in A Doll's House and Porphyria's Lover 12th Grade

Browning’s dramatic monologues Porphyria’s Lover and My Last Duchess critique Victorian society’s restrictive patriarchal values which suppressed a female’s endeavors for individualism. Meanwhile, Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House condemns the pretense of an idealistic marriage within a social hierarchy through his female protagonist, Nora. Both composers ultimately demonstrate the implications of their characters’ attempts to subvert society’s expectations.

Robert Browning’s dramatic monologue, Porphyria’s Lover, challenges Victorian society’s dominant patriarchal values by critiquing society’s tendency to undermine the role of women. The 1800s in England saw a period of misogynistic values imposed upon women, resulting in the stifling of their autonomy. However, Browning subverts these gender stereotypes through his portrayal of Porphyria, who transgresses social conventions when she visits her lover at night. The pathetic fallacy of ‘The rain set early in to-night/The sullen wind was soon awake’ establishes the persona’s unstable state of mind and foreshadows the consequences of Porphyria’s independence. Furthermore, having “laid her soil’d gloves by” and “let the damp hair fall”, Browning characterizes Porphyria as a ‘fallen...

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