“The Laboratory” by Robert Browning is a dramatic monologue. In this poem, a high-class woman explains her desires, feelings, and plans after facing the betrayal of her ex-lover. The bloodthirsty sadistic, and jealous woman wants to kill her enemies. For this purpose, she goes to a laboratory of an Alchemist to get the poison. Then, she intends to kill her rival with that poison.
The poem begins when a woman masks herself up and talks about devilish poison. She recalls how her ex-boyfriend played with her emotions. Furthermore, she explains that he and her new girlfriend mocked her feelings. It seems that the lady has endured a lot in the name of love. But now, she has grown so strong.
Moreover, she is all set to decide her horrible end. She closely observes the making of that deadly poison. Also, she shares details of the poisonous ingredients with readers. While watching, she accounts for the silly assumptions of her boyfriend and his girlfriend. She thinks they might be having fun while teasing her.
Unfortunately, the reality is the opposite. The lady is not mourning or cursing herself. Instead, she is planning something terrific for them. Throughout the poem, she seems curious and full of hatred. She even instructs the alchemist to get the desired result. Finally, when the poison is ready, she rewards the alchemist. Also, she offers him a kiss and leaves the laboratory to fulfill her mission.
Major Themes in “The Laboratory”
Jealousy, hatred, pain, and love are the poem’s central themes. The poem provides vivid detail of a woman’s hatred toward her enemies. The description shows that she suffered a great loss when her boyfriend rejected her. She bluntly describes how painful it was for her to survive during the trying times. However, she did not let that trauma ruin her life. Instead, it infused her with negative emotions and made her stand at a place where she dared to be a murderer.
To placid her mission, she visits a laboratory. There, the vengeful wife oversees an apothecary as he mixes a potion that intends to kill her husband’s new girlfriend. Her keen interest in making the poison and bad intentions show the dark side of her character. Moreover, it reflects how pitiable and merciless death she decides to inflict upon the one who cheated her.
On a deeper level, the poem sheds light on the dark side of human nature. It shows that if a lady becomes revengeful, she can go to any extent. She even does not fear killing someone to satisfy her instinct.
Analysis of Literary and Poetic Elements in “The Laboratory”
Literary and poetic elements are used to bring verity in the seemingly simple texts. Robert Browning has used many elements in the poem to make it a worth read. The analysis of the devices used in the poem is as follows.
- Assonance: Assonance refers to the repetition of vowel sounds such as the sound of /o/ in “poison to poison.”
- Consonance: Consonance refers to the occurrence of consonance sounds in the same verse such as the sound of /m/ in “man, on my mouth” and /t/ sound in “The delicate droplet.”
- End Rhyme: The writer add end rhyme to their poems to make it melodious. Some of the example are, “pain/remain” and “face/grace.”
- Enjambment: Enjambment refers to a thought that does not end in a verse. It rather moves to the next lines. Robert Browning has used this device in the poem to express his ideas about hatred and enmity.
- Imagery: Imagery is using powerful words that create touchy images in the reader’s mind. Some of the examples are; “glass mask tightly” and “take all my jewels.”
- Metaphor: Metaphor is making implied comparison between seemingly opposite things. The writer has used this device in the opening lines of the poem where he compares the laboratory with “devil’s smithy” to hint something evil.
- Quatrain: Quatrain is type of stanza that has four lines in it. The poem has twelve quatrains.
- Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows ABAB rhyme scheme.
- Symbolism: Symbolism is using signs and symbols to present a thought in an impressive way. Browning has used symbols like jealousy, mercilessness and devilish act to show the dark side of human nature.
Let’s Sum Up
To conclude, “The Laboratory” by Robert Browning Analysis reflects how evilness and enmity turns people into devils and beasts. They do not hesitate to touch any extreme to satisfy their pulse.
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