How Does Browning Reveal His Character Psyche in "Porphyria's lover" and "The Laboratory"?

Topics: Dramatic monologue, Delusion, Psychosis Pages: 3 (951 words) Published: February 4, 2007
"Porphyria's lover" (PL) and "The laboratory" (TL) are two dramatic monologues written by Robert Browning. Browning uses a range of techniques to reveal the characters psyche. The characters are both insane and deluded but have big differences, such as one of them is sadistic and the other suffering from subconscious guilt. I will be discussing the techniques that Browning uses to reveal his characters in PL and TL.

In TL Browning begins to suggest a sense of paranoia in the wife: she seems to feel as if her husbands lover's 'laugh, laugh at me' as if she can sense them laughing behind her back. Further more, the repetition of the word 'laugh' is used to emphasize her paranoia, anger and jealousy towards the actions of her husband lovers. Moreover there is an increase in pace and rhythm in verse 2, as the wife claims 'he is with her' she seems to lose control: she becomes aggravated by what she is saying.

As browning develops his character, her psychopathic tendencies become more prevalent through her affection for a 'wild crowd of invisible pleasures'. The idea that the poisons, that can harm and kill a person, are seen as 'invisible pleasures' emphasizes her sadism. Also the poisons are seen as a 'wild crowd' and this use of personification clearly shows her unstable mind as it is as If the poisons are jumping out at her, the poisons have come to life showing the strength of her deluded mind. Her unstable mind is also clear through the enjambment of

'No minion like me;/ That's why she ensnared him' which conveys her sudden switches and excited thoughts.

Browning places his potential killer in a 'devil's smithy' which immediately establishes a sinister mood. She seems to relish the 'faint smokes curling whitely' and eagerly asks 'Which is the poison to poison her, prithee?' Her enthusiasm for the setting reveals her violent tendencies. Browning similarly uses the setting to introduce the PL killer's psyche, it is stormy and the wind does 'its worst...
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