How do male authors portray their female characters

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Browning’s application concerning figurative language, emotive language, inferential language, symbolism and punctuation all emphasize the portrayal of, in this case Porphyria, as weak. The appellation Porphyria has significance to the poem, as it is a brain disease.

Figurative language.

The metaphors, personification, and alliteration set the picture or mood of the poem. There is quite a vast range of these. The number of them helps to reinforce the mood or picture, so that it sounds more authentic and gives an aggrandized vivid account. The mood also tells us that evil will be done, such as a crime of anger or a crime of passion. The narrator has been rejected in love. When he sees that Porphyria worships him he kills her to save her, from her own weakness.

Emotive and inferential

The emotive and inferential language in the poem helps to manufacture an atmosphere. The use of this also gives the characters more life so that they appear aggrandized real. The layout of the poem is all in one stanza so we know that it is only one person’s stream of consciousness. Each new line begins with a capital letter and this tells us that it is consistent and only one person speaking. The S sound in the poem, ‘The sullen wind was soon awake’, ‘the rain set early in tonight’ gives the poem a sinister feeling. The personification of the wind makes us feel more apprehensive of the narrator because we sense that the wind is not normal because it is evil.

Symbolism and imagery

The Symbolism and imagery in the poem also give us a more vivid account and, they give us a few hints that something bad is going to happen.

Night/ Storm = Passion ‘The storm set in early tonight’

Porphyria = Angelic “in glided Porphyria’

Sexy/alluring = hair

Golden/long = Religion/angel ‘God has not said a word’

The fact that the narrator wound Porphyria’s hair three times around her neck is significant as it has a link to the three witches in Macbeth. The first of these spun the thread of life, the second wove it, and the third cut it. By saying this, the narrator may be trying to infer that he is either, Above God or he is God and can manipulate fate. He makes another reference to this in the last few lines of the poem when he says ‘And yet God has not said a word.’ The narrator is very possessive ‘ As a shut bud tat holds a bee’. By saying this he is trying to keep Porphyria all to himself. He does this by killing her.

Style, Purpose and Audience

The style is dramatic monologue and is biased because it is only one stream of consciousness or solibqui. The purpose of the poem is to engage the audience and make them feel guilty due to it being a confession. The narrator withholds his name because it adds to the mystery and sinister feeling of the poem. Porphria’s name is very ironic because during the poem we have no mention of any insanity by Porphyria. The narrator on the other hand is clearly insane because he knew she worshipped him and yet he killed her. The one stanza is continuos because Porphyria is dead and she will always be dead. The fact cannot be changed.


Porphyria is portrayed as angelic, “in glided Porphyria”, innocent “perfectly pure and good”, and na�ve because she goes to him on her own during a storm. Porphyria is the name of the disease of the mind. The narrator must have the disease, as Porphyria is sane. The narrator has a warped mind and he believes he is above God although he is very religious. Porphyria is the victim of murder and this shows that Browning thought that women were weak, as she could not prevent him from murdering her. The era also has significance because society, at that time, would not allow a single woman to visit a single man at night. In my opinion, women are not weak, as many women have done amazing things. For example Denise Louis is a major athlete and the takes a lot of strength to do. Read “Night of the scorpion” poem questions and answers

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