How Robert Browning Portray's Mood in 'the Laboratory'.

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‘The Laboratory’ Essay
The subtitle to Robert Browning's poem “The Laboratory”, “Ancien Regime”, tells us that it is set in France before the revolution, when the act of women poisoning love rivals was very common. The poem is a dramatic monologue. The narrator appears to be a woman, a fact which is not apparent in the opening stanza, but becomes so as the poem develops. In the first stanza, the narrator is putting on a mask and watching the person in the laboratory through a haze of smoke: 'thro' these faint smokes curling whitely'. She shows her naivety whilst putting on the mask, as she thinks she is protecting herself, and doesn’t think it can harm her. This shows us that she doesn’t think of the consequences of her actions. The narrator refers to the laboratory as 'this devil's-smithy', which is the first sign that something sinister is going on. The final line of this stanza leaves us in no doubt of this, as the woman asks, 'Which is the poison to poison her, prithee?' The repetition of 'poison' emphasises its importance. The opening phrase of the second stanza, 'He is with her,' suggests that the narrator has asked for poison to be concocted because she is jealous. It would seem that her lover has deserted her for another woman. She says that they think she is crying and has gone to pray in 'the drear / Empty church'. The couple, meanwhile, are making fun of her, stressed by the repetition of 'laugh' in line 7. The stanza closes with the brief phrase 'I am here', emphasising the setting of the laboratory which is in such sharp contrast to the church. The phrase 'Grind away' at the start of the third stanza shows the woman's eagerness for the chemist to make the poison. Browning brings the description alive by using alliteration in the phrases 'moisten and mash' and 'Pound at thy powder'. The narrator is not in a hurry and says she would rather watch the concocting of the poison than be dancing at the King's court. In the fourth stanza the narrator...
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