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Robert Browning’s poem, “Porphyria’s Lover,” is considered a classic example of the dramatic monologue. It has a well defined speaker who cannot be identified with the poet. It is a pure monologue, rather than a soliloquy, which is a speech within a play spoken by a single person.
The poem follows a typical pattern found in Browning’s monologues in which the narrator is gradually proven unreliable over the course of the poems. A reader normally begins by trusting the narrator, and only at the point when it becomes overwhelmingly obvious that the narrator is untrustworthy (when he strangles Porphyria with her hair) do we look back and reframe earlier statements as evidence of his madness.
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