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Porphyria's Lover: A feminist interpretation

            For Robert Browning and his contemporaries England in the mid 19th century was a booming Empire. Under Queen Victoria's reign the British Empire was experiencing unequalled growth. This growth brought with it new peoples and cultures from all over to the imperial capital, London. The city's population sky rocketed from a mere 1 million people to 6 million people in only ten years. With such a diverse cultural atmosphere emerging so quickly Browning, and many of his fellow writers, became exposed to new customs and new ways of thinking. It was in this setting that a small underground movement known as feminism began to take a life of it's own through the literary works of England's greatest thinkers. .
             Authors, such as Browning, used poetry and novels as means of shedding light onto the plight of womanhood. For centuries English society had been built upon sexist patriarchal views propagated by the male aristocracy. That all; however, began to change during the Victorian age. Women around the world started to voice what they had secretly known forever; that being a woman did not make them weak or inferior to men. Inspired to help rid the world of injustice many women and some enlightened men began to write in protest of the blatant biological essentialism which was being perpetrated against women. Sadly those who did cry out in the open became terribly unpopular and their work buried because of the dominant sexist views even held by some, conditioned, women of the day. Soon authors such as Robert Browning discovered that it was acceptable and even applauded if writers masked their political voices behind fanciful stories which appealed to the imagination. .
             One of Browning's more simple but insightful feminist works is a piece entitled "Porphyria's Lover." The poem opens on a cloudy and stormy night. The storm as come quicker than expected, perhaps a foreshadowing of the fate of this young girl Porphyria.

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