At the start of My Last Duchess the first-person narrator is talking about a painting on his wall. Up to the sixth line he tells us that it is "Frà Pandolf by design." Frà would have been a highly considered artist during the time the poem is set.
The way the first-person narrator is put forward as somewhat arrogant, yet he also likes to keep things to himself. For example in line nine and ten he says "since none puts by the curtain I have drawn for you, but I."
This is saying that he is the only person apart from the narrator to see the painting, it also says how only he can draw the curtain. However, throughout the rest of the poem we figure that the curtain is there to make sure that his last duchess doesn't 'see' what he is doing.
At the start of The Laboratory in the first stanza the first-person narrator at line three says "As thou pliest thy trade i this devil's smithy." Devil's smithy is what she calls the laboratory, yet the way it is incorporated into the stanza makes it seem more sinister.
This is confirmed in line four, where she says "Which is the poison to poison he, prithee?" The narrator is asking a poison, this is developed throughout the rest of the poem with the narrator seemingly becoming more sinister throughout.
Midway through My Last Duchess we learn more about the narrator and the Duchess. The narrator is the current duke - with which I will now refer to him as - with the duchess being his now dead wife.
The duke tells us how the Duchess was too easily impressed. The duke tells us this in line 22: "A hear - how shall I say? - too soon made glad." This, read along with the rest of the verse makes us feel that the Duchess may not have died of age or disease, but of murder.
Throughout the poem Robert Browning follows and develops this scent of mystery and eventually you get to the 'beast' and, after re...