I love you so much I just had to kill you.

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A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.

--Browning in Roberts pg. 367

What a way to go. I had to read this a twice before I actually realized what happened. What a way to go, strangled by the one person you adore more than all others. You can kind of read this poem like a confessional. The speaker has no one to tell his story to, so he writes it in a poem for the world to see--I'm sure Browning never committed murder. 

So I guess he just had to kill her because she loved him too much? or did he love her just as much and wanted to make sure she'd love him forever? Once she's dead, what can she do to change the way she feels about him? He has eternally preserved his favorite memory of her, even if it does mean he had to kill her.

What I don't understand is why this woman didn't put up a fight at all. Did she honestly just sit there content while her lover strangled her? Is this supposed to represent unconditional love? 

I don't know what's more messed up, killing the woman who "worships" you or playing with her dead body afterwards. He plays with her eyelids and finally releases her from the strangle. Can you say necrophilia? I gotta say, this was definitely not one of my favorite assigned readings this semester. Necrophilia. Gross.

7 Comments

Jessica Orlowski said:

Jess, I thought it may have been a case of necrophilia at first, too. Then, in one of the lines, the speaker says that she was pale. I kind of took this to mean that she was really ill, and because he loved her so much, he took her out of her misery.

Here's my blog:

http://blogs.setonhill.edu/JessicaOrlowski/2009/11/the_ultimate_horror_love_story.html

Jessie Author Profile Page said:

Even if that is the case, there's no excuse for his actions after he killed her. I can understand wanting to hold her close after he drains the life out of her, I guess. But the whole thing is just WAY too creepy for me to handle.

Aja Hannah said:

Well, they may both be dead. She may have let him kill her because he was also dying. He didn't get up to help her with anything and at the end "And thus we sit together now, / And all night long we have not stirred"

Jessica Orlowski said:

Well, I agree with you, Aja. They could both be dead, and that makes a lot of sense. If HE wasn't the diseased one, it really wouldn't make a whole lot of sense, though. I still like Karyssa's vampire theory. THAT makes sense... he's feasting on her. Her desires... giving way to passion.. blah blah blah.

I think Porphyria probably did put up a fight but we never saw it because we were seeing everything from a deluded man's point of view. He describes her eyes as laughing and her cheeks as blushing, when obviously that can't be the case if she was just strangled. The way Browning presents the story, from the speaker's point of view only, allows the reader to notice the things that just don't add up so that we can realize the man has been insane all along.

Jessie Author Profile Page said:

That's a good point Karyssa. The class discussion we had on this poem really helped me to see the other side of this poem. When I initially read it, I just saw the speaker as a freak who was into playing with dead women's bodies, but after our discussion, I have a better understanding that the speaker was clearly much more insane than that. Like you said, he was clearly deluded, and you're right, we really don't get the whole story because we can only see from his point of view.

Kayla Lesko said:

Whenever I read this part, it was like a smack to the face; very unexpected. I really wasn't sure what to make of the poem either.

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