Comparison ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ by Robert Browning and ‘The Sisters’ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
In both stories there is a murder. These murders are committed by a lover. In ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ the murderer is the man. He murdered her to keep her pure and to himself. He thought that Porphyria would have wanted him to do it. He also thought that she loved him a lot. He thought this because she came home from the party that she was at just to see him. This man killed Porphyria by strangling her with her own hair. He got it in one long yellow string and raped it around her throat three times. The murderers state of mind was not good. He was insane.
He thought that just because he hadn’t had a sing or heard a voice or anything like that from god it was ok to have killed her, because god hadn’t said anything what he did was all right. This shows definite madness. This man was also lying to himself to make it better. He had to repeat that she felt no pain. This shows that he had to convince him self. Also he said that her eyes were looking up at her and laughing at him without a stain in then. If a person is strangled their eyes would be blood spotted, so his statement cannot be right. He makes it as if nothing had happened by putting her head on his shoulder.
He also says then “the smiling rosy little head”. He does not accept that she is dead. This also changes the dominant partner. In the beginning she is the one who puts his head on her shoulder like a puppet but now it is his role to do this. He is a selfish man who wants to keep her to himself, another way that we can see her is selfish is at the very beginning. He would rather Porphyria start a fire in the grate when she is cold and wet and just got home then do it himself. He was sulking that she went to the party and didn’t bother to do anything about it.
In ‘The Sisters’ it is the lady who is the murderer. She murdered her lover ‘the Earl’ out of hate but also to prove that she is as good as her sister. The Earl originally courted her sister who was the prettier of the two. This other sister had a sexual relationship with the Earl and so she fell from grace, she shamed her family and because of this, when she died “she went to burning flame”. The sister that was still alive wanted to prove to herself that she was just as good as her sister and could if she wanted have the Earl as her lover.
She hated the Earl “with the hate of hell” but she “loved his beauty passing well”. This whole murder was planned unlike the other one in Porghyria’s lover, which was on the spur of the moment. This lady spent months planning to gain his love and then to kill him when he trusted her. “Whole weeks and months, and early and late, to win his love I lay in wait”. This murder was something that she thought she needed to do because the Earl fell in love with her sister and not her. The lady killed the Earl by stabbing him. “I stabb’d him thro’ and thro’.
This was to make sure he was dead. She waited till he was asleep and his guard was down. This lady was defiantly mad. You can tell this by the refrain. In the third line of every verse it describes how the wind is out side. This however also indicates her madness through it. To start with it is just blowing then howling as she gets madder. Her madness is then roaring and raging before she kills him. When she actually kills him it is raving, showing that she is as mad as a hatter is, although she was same enough to sharpen her dagger before she killed him.
After she kills him the madness is over and it goes back to be blowing again. This murderer unlike the man in Porphyria’s lover accepts that her lover is dead. She wraps him in a sheet and then lays his dead body at the feet of his mother. The Victim In both of the stories it is the lovers partners that are murdered. In Porphyria’s lover it is Porphyria who is killed. Phorphyria is kind and loving. When she first enters in to the poem she has just returned home prom a party. To get home she had to travel through a storm, which meant that she was cold and wet.
Despite been soaked the first thing she did was to light the fire for her lover, then get changed. At the beginning she is the dominant partner. She had to move his arms to go around her waist. She was treating him like a puppet. We don’t actually know who this Porphyria is. This lady could have just been a visitor to the man in his house, and because of his madness he believes that she really is his lover. She became the victim because the man believes that she loved him. He thought that she loved him so much she left the party and came home through the wind and rain just to be with him.
He also thought that it would be what she would have wanted. The poem tells us that she is from a higher-class maybe and that she cannot let go of that. By killing her he was finally letting her let go of her family. In ‘The sisters’ the victim is the man. This man was the Earl. He was also very handsome. We see this in the refrain at the end of every verse “O the Earl was fair to see! ” This man was murdered because he went out with the wrong sister. The other sister, the murderer hated him because of this. She was the one that really loved him but he decided that he wanted her sister instead.
This sister needed revenge on him because of this. It was something she needed to do because he didn’t chose her. In the poem he is a bit of a fool to let himself be sucked into her plan. He went to a feast that she invited him to and there she “won his love”. In both of these stories the victims don’t do anything. It is as if they are waiting to be murdered like sacrificial lambs. The Atmosphere The similarities in the two poems when it comes to the atmosphere is the weather outside. In both of the poems the weather outside is stormy e. g. cold, wet, windy and dark.
This sets the scene of a murder but also is there to show the madness of the murderers and their insanity. Porphyria’s lover is set in a little cottage in the country, with a storm going on in the background. In Porphyria’s lover the atmosphere inside to start with is cold and dark, but when Porphyria comes in she lights the fire. This changes it to warm and almost protected from the weather outside which in turn would mean protection from the madness of the murderer but it doesn’t. When he talks about her, the atmosphere is calm, nothing is happening and according to him they love each other.
Even when the man kills porphyria this atmosphere remains the same. It is as if he isn’t really killing her. He has done nothing wrong, he was just doing what he thought she would have wanted. It was the simplest thing in the world to do. After that the atmosphere changes to peaceful. The two of them are just sitting there, perfectly still, not moving. Her with her head on his shoulder and him contempt that she was his for ever and that what he just did was ok because god said nothing. It is calm and peaceful and he would probably sit with her on his shoulder till someone found him.
The sisters is set in the bedchamber of the sister. Outside there is a storm, which is blowing in the turret and the trees. It is this storm which indicates the growing madness of the sister in the build up and climax of the murder. This storm keeps the madness and insanity there while the rest of the poem takes place. Inside the atmosphere is very different from Porphyria’s lover. In Porphyria’s lover it is almost peaceful. In the sisters you never get that. All the way through this poem the tension and insanity is growing.
You see this lady getting madder and the hatred growing inside of her towards the Earl. Poem set up. These two poems are set up in very different ways. Porphyria’s lover is irregular. You are not meant to stop reading until the punctuation tells you to. When reading this poem you are not aware of the rhyme in this poem, as it is enjambment. It follows the rhyme structure a,b,a,b,b c,d,c,d,d e,f,e,f,f. Although the poem is not split into verses by this reoccurring pattern in the rhyme it is sort of split up. This rhyme carries on through the whole poem.
In the sisters the poem tells you when to stop and take a rest. It is written with end stopped lines. This poem is also in verse unlike porphyria’s lover, which isn’t. This poem is set in the form of a ballad. A ballad is an old folk song, which is there to tell a story using simple rhyme so when people are joining in with the words they can sing alone and predict the words and the end of the sentence. This poem contains a different rhyme structure to the other. A,a,b,c,c,b d,d,b,e,e,b f,f,b,g,g,b h,h,b,I,I,b As you can see ‘b’ repeats in every verse. This is called the refrain.
The first line of the refrain refers to the weather outside and how it is building up into a raving storm as the sisters’ madness and insanity grows with it. The next line of the refrain is about the Earl. “O the Earl was fair to see! ” When this is said although it is the same phrase the words change. They mean different thing each time. For example in the second verse she is saying it to mean that it was good to see such a handsome man falling for her plot. In the third verse she is almost laughing at the Earl, because he made such the perfect victim and in the forth verse it is said with regret for what she is about to do.
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