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Themes Of Love And Obsession In The Laboratory And My Last Duchess

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Robert browning was an English poet that wrote many poems which were known for their irony, characterisation and historical settings. Robert Browning’s illustrates distinctive ideas through his characters of the dangers of socially acceptable behaviours of the Victorian era. He depicts his characters as psychotic, self-centred, yet madly in love to express the morals towards the obsession he portrays as love. The Laboratory and My last Duchess display a variety of these themes, they also have their own distinctive ideas. Both of these poems explore the aspect of murder and the motivations behind it, however they have distinct ideas at the heart of the poems which make them all unique.

Writers like Robert Browning explore shocking, challenging yet, distinctive ideas that reveal to the modern viewers the way that women were controlled by men or were in the control of men during the Victorian era. However in Browning’s ‘The Laboratory’ Robert transforms the tale of one were it is a lady’s nasty plot to kill her romantic rival. Browning based his text off a real-life figure, a French woman named Madame de Brinvilliers, a psychotic ex-lover who under any circumstances wants her lover back.I found it very hard to believe yet intriguing that a human could plan in such a cold and calculating way. In Browning’s dramatic monologue ‘The Laboratory’ the themes related to the texts are jealousy and revenge. This is wisely implanted throughout the poem by giving the viewers the disturbing mindset of the female persona who is planning to murder her romantic rival. In stanza two, we are shown the woman’s jealousy in the quote, “He is with her; and they know I know where they are.” From this quote we learn that the speaker once again discloses her paranoia and jealousy as she is overthinking about the couple being together, which can also suggest that her partner cheated on her. Repetition is frequently used throughout the poem, especially when it was displayed through the quote “While they laugh, laugh at me”. This quote informs the readers that the protagonist is clearly upset at the fact that her rival is spending time with her true love. We can also detect a hint of suspicion in the tone of her voice; which may hint that she is emotionally distraught. The theme of power is shown through the use of onomatopoeia and alliteration when the speaker says “Empty church, to pray God in, for them!—I am here. Grind away, moisten and mash up thy paste, Pound at thy powder,—I am not in haste!”. This shows the audience how the speaker is in power and now is taking control over the poison to kill her ex-lover’s new love interest. Therefore, we can effectively tell that Robert Browning hs used distinctive ideas in his text.

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Furthermore, another extraordinary poem done by Robert Browning “My Last Duchess” displays much of the same yet distant distinctive ideas. In Browning’s dramatic monologue “My Last Duchess” the themes of power and jealousy are at the heart of the poem by showing the viewers a glimpse into the disturbed male point of view/ persona, were The Duke is shown to control the Duchess. Robert uses a variety of techniques like symbolism in the text were the Duke says. “Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity.” through the use of symbolism Robert is able to compare a woman to a seahorse to emphasize his point on how women should be under the control of men. Otherwise they would end up acting wrongfully which leads to unwanted consequences. This displays the power he liked to hold over the Duchess. Another effective technique Browning uses is accumulation. This technique is shown when the duke vocalises “Easily impressed: She liked whatever She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.” Duke jealousy is interpreted to start increasing overall because she shows attention to everything except him. The choice of wording reveals that she is easily impressed by anyone and anything. This type of jealousy is found in toxic romantic situations. It is clear that her ruined their relationship due to his jealousy and insecurity. Hence, this shows that Robert Browning uses distinctive ideas in his work.

Both poems are of contemporary relevance, as people today are still fascinated by murder, mystery and tales of unrequited love. It is very obvious that the poems were written in the 16th-century though, as some of the language is no longer in use today. Robert Browning’s use of distinctive ideas through the use of two effective and significant themes power and jealousy. He additionally uses literary techniques such as onomatopoeia, symbolism, repetition and alliteration to make a colossal impact on the readers. Both of these extraordinary texts were written during the 16th-century, in the Victorian era related to the socially acceptable behaviours by society.

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Themes Of Love And Obsession In The Laboratory And My Last Duchess. (2021, September 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from
“Themes Of Love And Obsession In The Laboratory And My Last Duchess.” Edubirdie, 09 Sept. 2021,
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