my last duchess and the labratory essay

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an essay of two of robert browning's poems, my last duchess, and the labratory

Submitted: January 27, 2017

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Submitted: January 27, 2017

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my last duchess and he laboratory essay

The two of Browning's poems both take a firm center of jealousy and how that one petty emotion can change your  point of view in more ways than one, and how the two main characters in the poems give in to it and take drastic measures. In this way the poems are more or less the same. On the other hand the two poems come from two different perspectives which also has an effect on the reader. In 'my last duchess' the main character (or in this case the narrator) is an influential man from a prestigious family. We know this from when browning writes "as if she ranked my gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name with anybody's gift'' The way we portray this is that he believes the name of his family to be something not taken lightly and that it should be held with the utmost respect. Although most family's at the time we suspect this poem to take place, hold their family name as something precious, the way the narrator says this sounds somewhat ominous. This man has a wife (AKA. a duchess) of whom finds happiness in the most simple things, such as sunsets, flowers and the such. Because she see's the beauty in many things, she is always great full to everything, when other men smile at her she smiles back. To her this seems like something normal to do, but to her husband, the narrator, it makes him think that she shows little appreciation to the things he does as she seemingly ranks things that come from him (such as the ''nine-hundred-years-old name'') with other things like flowers etc. At the end of the poem, the husband  gives the orders to have her killed due to the jealousy he has harbored. we get this information from the statement ''I gave the commands; Then all smiles stopped together.'' because the lines the killing takes place in is very short when compared to the rest of the poem, this makes us believe that he put little thought into taking action, meaning he didn't really care about his wife all that much. In the laboratory, although it also focuses on jealousy, this is a little different. The main character (and narrator), this time a woman, has developed deep feelings of love towards a man, However the aforementioned man does not return her feelings as he already has a girlfriend. This fact causes our main character to want the other woman out of the picture, because she believes that if that  happens then he will return her feelings of affection. Throughout the whole poem, the Lady it's focused on is in a laboratory where she has seemingly hired a scientist, or something of the sort to make her a poison of which she will use to kill her lovers girlfriend. As she is waiting for it to be prepared, she talks of how she is going to get the girl to consume the poison an example would be the line ''To carry pure death in an ear ring, a casket, a signet a fan-mount, a filigree-basket!'' here, she lists some possible ways of which she will force the poison onto the subject.

 in both poems, browning creates two very different  atmospheres, yet at the same time, if you read deeper into it, they also share some similarities. 'My last duchess' although focused on jealousy is also linked to the theme of love, as browning bases this poem on the false love of a marriage that is entirely in the mans favor. As the woman seemingly has no freedom to love as she likes, its almost as though she is forced to take on another personality to please her husband. When she doesn't do this, it causes the male of the relationship to lose all reason and become jealous of not receiving the attention he seeks until eventually he feels it's too much of a hassle. He has her killed before settling on another wife. We know that he adopts another wife, as at the beginning of the piece, browning writes ''That's my last duchess painted on the wall'' to understand this, you must pay attention to use of the word ''last''. Although that word can be used in this case to say that she was the last duchess he had, and there where no more afterwards. We suspect in this case that it means his previous duchess as in there are or were more after her. This is because at the end, it's revealed that  the person the narrator is showing the picture to is an underling of his soon-to -be-wife's father, and that they are on their way to discuss the meeting of such matters. In a way this gives us a feeling of curiosity, will the new wife meet the same fate or please him? The laboratory is also lightly based on love, but it could also be seen as a poem about how when people develop certain emotions strong enough, they can become delusional and start to confuse their way of thinking. Browning has captured this motion perfectly. the poem itself is about the feeling of rejection mixed with jealousy,  the one harboring these feelings quickly becomes deranged and starts to go to extreme lengths to get what she desires. Although  it isn't said directly, we can see that as the story progresses, she starts to fall deeper into the depths of madness. by the end of the poem after insisting her immense love for the other party, she suddenly tells the scientists that he can kiss her. after declaring love for someone multiple times, even going so far as to kill another human being to get these feelings returned, one wouldn't let another man place a kiss upon them so careless and recklessly as in the poem. "You can kiss me old man, on my mouth if you will''

Browning has managed to create two entirely different atmospheres in something so similar. In my last duchess, the atmosphere given is something rather calming yet when you look between the lines, you'll get a completely new atmosphere. The language used is beautiful and filled with things that make us calm and or happy, such as flowers, gifts, smiles etc. But when you read between the lines, you'll get something completely different.''I gave the order;then all smiles stopped together''-This statement is very dark and violent, yet the way it's read is very calm and slow. This masks the murderous intent by not making it completely blunt and obvious. That's because when you get down to it, it's really a poem about jealousy and murder. Although the laboratory is also about jealousy and murder,it isn't masked over like my last duchess. The atmosphere is dark and malicious that much is obvious, it doesn't use much complicated language, but it makes good use of poetic writing techniques. The lady of which is the main focus is constantly talking about either death, poison, or pain which adds to the dark unfriendly picture the reader is envisioning.

In my last duchess, Browning uses no rhyming  techniques, so as to make the reader feel as though they are reading an extract straight out of someones life. Although it doesn't rhyme as such, it does have a rhythmic tendency when read, which makes it easier for the reader to absorb whats going on. Getting a response that shows the reader has understood what's happening, without having to know the meaning behind every line. In contrast to my last duchess, the laboratory contains a lot of rhyme, in fact every 1st and 2nd line, along with the 3rd and 4th lines rhyme. This makes it sound like the narrator is singing, and because the poem is based on what it is, this just adds to the feeling that she is mentally deranged.


To me, these two poems are irrelevant because I can't particularly say that I can relate to them well. However I do show respect to Browning for writing such pieces that capture the essence of jealousy so well. As mentioned before, the laboratory captures the motion of deranged jealousy perfectly. I also like how Browning has included no murderous atmosphere in my last duchess. the way its written gives a complete 180 vibe of what the plot is actually about. It inspires me to read and write more, so that I can write pieces like these one day.


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