Comparison of My Last Duchess and the Laboratory
Poems ‘The laboratory, the content of the play, from my point of view is about a woman whose partner has left her for another woman. The poet has planned to kill the other woman as she is jealous of her and wants revenge from her ex. We can tell she is jealous of this other woman as she says she’s not little, no minion like me! ’ this shows she is jealous of the woman as she thinks she is of higher status, the words ‘she’s not little’ shows this. She thinks the other woman is better than she is.
We also know she wants to get revenge from her ex as she says ‘he is sure to remember her dying face! ’ here we know she wants revenge as she wants her ex to see the love of his life die as well as suffer, by doing this she will punish both of them. ‘My last duchess, the poem is set during the 19th century. The speaker who is the Duke of Ferrara is giving the tour of his prospective second wife a tour of the artworks in his home. He draws a curtain to reveal a painting of a woman, explaining that it is a portrait of his late wife; he invites his guest to sit and look at the painting.
As they look at the portrait of the Duchess, the Duke describes her happy, cheerful and flirtatious nature, which had displeased him. He says, “She had a heart or how shall I say? Too soon made glad” He goes on to say that his complaint of her was that not only her husband’s presence was that made her happy. Eventually, “I gave commands; then all smiles stopped together. ” He now keeps her painting hidden behind a curtain that only he is allowed to draw back, meaning that now she only smiles for him The two Robert Browning poems I have chosen are ‘The Laboratory’ and ‘My last Duchess’.
My initial reaction on reading the laboratory was one of horror and fascination as it tells a tale of a woman scorned. I found it horrifying that a human being could plan in such a cold and calculating way, but I also found this fascinating. My feelings on reading My Last Duchess was pity for the Duke who was narrating the poem as it was clear that his jealousy and insecurity had ruined their relationship. ` Both poems have contemporary relevance, as people today are still intrigued by murder, mystery and tales of unrequited love.
It is very obvious that the poems were written in the 19th century though, as some of the language is no longer in use in today’s society for example durst, dared, forsooth and indeed. There are other indications that the poetry was written in the 19th century by the references made to the use of a fan and also the way the poison was prepared using pestle and mortar. ‘Grind away moistens and mash up thy paste, Pound at thy powder-I am not in haste. ‘ The theme of The Laboratory is one of the eternal love triangles.
Where the theme in my last duchess would seem to be about an obsessive yet insecure lover. The similarity would be the extreme jealousy that is displayed by both narratives. The difference is that the narrator in My Last Duchess is so jealous and insecure that he ‘gave commands; The character of the narrator in The Laboratory displays an intensity of emotion through her obvious jealousy of the other woman this intensity of jealousy could only be achieved if she also had experienced the same level of love.
Similarly, the character of the narrator in My Last Duchess which is a man also displays obvious jealousy although it is without such an intensity of emotion. Both poems are dramatic monologues, the tone of The Laboratory is one of anger and the mood is evil, it creates a tense atmosphere which leads the reader to rush from one verse to the next to see how the story within the poem develops. In comparison, My Last Duchess is written in a less direct way and seems less hurried the narrative’s jealousy is not immediately apparent but becomes more obvious as the poem progresses.
In conclusion, after having studied both poems, it is the style and content of the laboratory which has made the most impact on me. The directness of the narrative regarding her intent and the subject matter I found as I said earlier both horrific yet fascinating. The image of a 19th century alchemist was easily consumed up and I almost felt like I was there. My Last Duchess, although interesting did not have the same impact on me this is mainly due to the style of the poem which is a more meandering tale and has a less direct approach.