This poem is a dramatic monologue about a woman whose lover is cheating on her with his mistress â€˜Paulineâ€™. The woman who is speaking talks about her feelings of hatred and betrayal, so she decides to show her lover how much she is hurt by poisoning his mistress and making him watch her die slowly. Robert Browningâ€™s poem was set in the ancient regime when women were thought of as incapable and a lower class because of their gender. She feels that she deserves power and therefore wants control of everything she does this is portrayed by the language that he uses. The language in the laboratory is very effective.
Robert Browning uses techniques such as alliteration to emphasise different moods in the poem such as â€˜moisten, mash up thy powderâ€™; the alliteration in this case is effective because it sounds angry and gives the poem a more venomous feel. This relates to the poem because it reminds us that a poison is being made. The structure of the laboratory reminds the reader of a list. This is also evident in some of the language. The line â€˜A signet, a fan-mount, a filigree basketâ€™ portrays that she has thought things and shows her determination to kill. It is also very logical which make the reader question her sanity.
I believe that Robert Browning structured the poem like this to make sure that we donâ€™t feel sympathy for her as she is shown as a cold killer. Robert Browning uses a technique called enjambment in the lines â€˜with her head/ and her breast and her arms and her hands should drop dead. â€™ This technique is an effective form of structure because it forces the reader to read it quickly which in effect speeds up the pace of the poem. Robert browning used this technique to make the poem more dramatic and also enables the reader to get to the end of the poem when Pauline will be killed.
The poet uses repetition throughout the poem to create the image of insanity and paranoia. â€˜While they laugh-laugh at meâ€™ is used to make the reader believe that she is insane from the thought of her lover cheating on her. The word â€˜laughâ€™ is effective because it indicates to the reader that she is beyond feeling heartache and her rage has blinded her into paranoia. The punctuation has a wide job role in the Laboratory. It is used for pace as the commas are slowing the pace down in contrast to the language and poetic techniques which are speeding it up. The role of the punctuation is particularly illustrated in the lines â€˜Quick—is it
finished? The colour’s too grim! / Why not soft like the phial’s, enticing and dim? â€™. This quote shows that the language picked was cleverly thought out as it makes the reader want to read faster, and the punctuation slows the reader again and slows the pace to make it more dramatic and tense. Throughout the poem the narrator talks about how she want to kill Pauline and how she will feel when she does it, but in this quote near the end of the poem it says: â€˜Let it brighten her drink, let her turn it and stir, /And try it and taste, ere she fix and prefer!
â€™ this suggests that Pauline would not realise that the poison is in her glass and would taste it and stir the drink more to make it taste better and subsequently mix the poison in her glass therefore leading to her own death. In conclusion, I believe that Robert Browning uses all these techniques to engage the reader and make them feel the pain of the narrator. Through this poem I have learnt that power can go to peoples head if they use it wrongly. Throughout the essay I have been writing about Robert Browningâ€™s unique way of putting the reader into the writing. He also uses techniques to put emotion and life into the poem.
Life in the 1800s was all about power and money; the more money you had the more power and influence you had. It was hard for women to be noticed as an equal because in those times women were known as the lesser species so had no power and were property to their father until marriage when they would be transferred to the husband. Women had no say in social matters or had any influence in the community. I believe Robert Browning was trying to say that women still have emotions and are equally strong physically and mentally which is shown in the well planned out murder in the poem.
Courtney from Study Moose
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