LOVE IN “1984” & “PORPHYRIA’S LOVER” Ela Golhan
In both George Orwell’s novel,”1984″ and Robert Browning’s poem, “Porphyria’s Lover”, love is used strongly as a theme. 1984 is about two people rebelling against their government by being together and the former is about a psychopath with a very specific understanding of love, which ends up with him killing his lover. In both texts, love is represented as an exciting and enjoyable concept but also as a dangerous emotion at times and that society’s rules have a huge effect and pressure.
Having a loving, committed relationship with someone is both soothing and exciting from what we see in both stories. In 1984 we are shown how Winston and Julia’s exhilarating affair gives both of them a new purpose in life, as seen in, “When you make love you’re using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy and don’t give a damn for anything,”(Orwell, p.167). The need for love that they both have consumes yet brings joy and meaning to their lives. Love also seems to consume the persona in Porphyria’s Lover where all he thinks of his lover and their future, as cited in; “”Porphyria worshipped me; surprise Made my heart swell, and still it grew,”(Browning, PL). We observe how strongly the persona feels about their love and thinks that is thrilling and magical. In both texts we see how love is exciting and lively but there are some minor differences. In 1984, even though the Winston and Julia are using each other to feel in love and not actually be in love with one another, the feeling they have for each other are mutual. On the other hand in Porphyria’s Lover the persona seems to think that their love is so powerful that she worships him but it seems that his lover is using him. Even though there are a few differences both texts represent love as an exciting delight at times.
The commitment to love may feel relaxing and passionate but can also cause extreme danger. In 1984 Winston and Julia’s “love” is illegal which puts them in danger whenever they do something together, “At the sight of the words I LOVE YOU the desire to stay alive had welled up in him, and the taking of minor risks suddenly seemed stupid,” (Orwell, p.138). Wanting to be loved and wanting to love puts Winston and Julia in danger, and eventually leads to them being tortured. In Porphyria’s Lover, love brings out the dangerous side in the persona and Porphyria becomes the victim; “I found a thing to do, and all her hair, in one long yellow string I wound three times her little throat around, and strangled her,”(Browning, PL). In this quote we see that the reader is so determined to save their love and keep it forever that he will even kill her to save it and make sure it will always be there. In 1984 Winston and Julia are in danger because of rules they are breaking for being together while in Porphyria’s Lover only Porphyria is in danger because the persona would rather kill her than live without her. Though contrasted both writings show the danger aspect of love.
Love effects how you feel and what state you are in but the one thing that effects love the most is society. While reading 1984 we see that the main reason why Winston and Julia get tortured and have to sneak around is because of the government and all the brainwashed people surrounding them;“ What was more important was that sexual privation induced hysteria, which was desirable because it could be transformed … If you’re happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother and the Three-Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot?”(Orwell, p.167). From this quote it is understood how much pressure society is placing on certain individuals and how you have to be discreet to have a relationship with someone. In Porphyria’s love society is what stands in between the persona and his lover from spending eternity together; “Too weak, for all her heart’s endeavor, To set its struggling passion free, From pride, and vainer ties dissever, And give herself to me forever,” (Browning, PL). This quote suggests that Porphyria is being held back from being with the persona due to external situations, which could be a marriage or a class difference. In both cases we see how much society is an effecting relationships, but the difference between the two is that in 1984 it is very clear that the relationships are not allowed in any form whereas in the poem the restrictions on their relationship is more subtle, it is still strong, but Porphyria might have a choice. In summary, society is standing in the way of their relationship and love.
In conclusion both stories clearly state that love may seem enjoyable and delightful but lead to danger and didn’t work because of society. We see that in 1984 everything is outlined evidently and the reason of all their problems is the party, the society, and the rules that must be followed. Whereas in Porphyria’s Lover, the persona believes that it’s society standing in the way because he doesn’t want to believe that she has a choice and doesn’t love him. Both texts talk represent love as exciting but dangerous.