In Porphyria’s lover, Browning uses setting effectively throughout the poem to show key emotions and hidden thoughts throughout the poem. At the beginning of the poem the violent words ‘sullen’ and ‘tore’ suggests an essence of struggle and a secretive and slightly sinister atmosphere. Since wind is not able to feel emotion, it appears that the narrator is colouring the outside environment with his own internal emotions. He feels gloomy and spiteful himself, not the wind.
The use of pathetic fallacy throughout the poem, such as ‘it tore the elm-tops down for spite’ foreshadows a future bad event and reflects the narrator’s destructive state of mind in the rest of the poem, this gives us a sense of the narrator and Porphyria’s relationship. The quote ‘she shut the cold out and the storm,’ suggests that when Porphyria enters the cottage, the setting seems domestic and ordinary, until the moment of crisis ‘and strangled her’ there is a sense of irony throughout this section as an inauspicious event happened at such an innocent, ordinary and domestic setting.
The quote, ‘She shut out the cold out and the storm’ means that as Porphyria enters, the cottage setting becomes warm in which the poem is suggesting that Porphyria is lightening up the setting and atmosphere in the cottage. The first six lines tell of a dark and stormy night, which is helpful to the extent that it sets a dismal human mood and sets the scene for the cold blood murder in which the narrator is about to committ.