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The Relations Sex and Death in Poe’s “For Annie” and Browning’s “Porphyrias Lover”

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Both Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “For Annie” and Robert Browning’s poem “Porphyrias Lover” create complex relations between sex and death. In “For Annie” the masochistic storyteller sees sexual excitement as a suffering to be endured and embraces the state that follows as an estimate to death. He is masochists, who takes pleasure in envisioning himself dead and resolves his own sexual worries by visualizing a situation in which he is motionless and immobile, while his lover takes on a maternal role. In Robert Browning’s “Porphyrias Lover,” on the other hand, the speaker is vicious, resolving his problems through murdering his lover and rationalizing his actions in terms of an imagined post-sexual state. Both speakers believe they are…show more content…
At this point in the poem, the speaker is clearly the weaker of the two. Even the poems heading suggests that his relation to her defines him, rather than being his own identity; we know her name but we never discover his own. However, the speaker, is apparently changed by his acts of sadistic violence toward his lover, an action that he reveals as something that he thinks of at the spur of the moment rather than a pre-calculated act: “I found /A thing to do.” (37-38) Porphyria’s light-colored hair that earlier on she had used to console the speaker becomes the reason of her death, as “all her hair/In one long yellow string I wound…And strangled her.” (38-41) when she is living, the narrator seems incapable to please her. He depicts himself as “one so pale/ for love of her, and all in vain.” (28-29) However, the speaker hastily takes on the leading role once she is gone. Her kindness to him and the susceptible position, in which she places herself, thus becomes the cause of her death. Once she is dead, the speaker is no longer frightened to have contact with her, taking the role in their sexual contact: “this time my shoulder bore/ her head, which droops upon it still.” (50-51). to the speaker, she looks
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