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The Laboratory by Robert Browning. GCSE LITERATURE Commentary on the poem. MUST: Read and understand the poem The Laboratory (D) SHOULD: Annotate the poem, identifying literary devices (C ) COULD: Identify the layers of meaning (B). What do you think of…?. The Laboratory?. Experimentations.

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The Laboratory by Robert Browning


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    1. The Laboratoryby Robert Browning GCSE LITERATURE Commentary on the poem

    2. MUST: Read and understand the poem The Laboratory (D)SHOULD: Annotate the poem, identifying literary devices (C )COULD: Identify the layers of meaning (B)

    3. What do you think of…? The Laboratory?

    4. Experimentations Medicines The Laboratory Scientific A chemist ‘The’ best one

    5. The Laboratory by Robert Browning ANCIEN REGIME I Now that I, tying thy glass mask tightly, May gaze thro’ these faint smokes curling whitely, As thou pliest thy trade in this devil’s –smithy – Which is the poison to poison her, prithee? II He is with her, and they know that I know Where they are, what they do: they believe my tears flow While they laugh, laugh at me, at me fled to the drear Empty church, to pray God in, for them! – I am here. III Grind away, moisten and mash up thy paste, Pound at thy powder, - I am not in haste! Better sit thus, and observe thy strange things, Than go where men wait me and dance at the King’s. IV That in the mortar – you call it a gum? Ah, the brave tree whence such gold oozings come! And yonder soft phial, the exquisite blue, Sure to taste sweetly, - is that poison too? V Had I but all of them, thee and thy treasures, What a wild crowd of invisible pleasures! To carry pure death in an earring, a casket, A signet, a fan-mount, a filigree basket! VI Soon, at the King’s, a mere lozenge to give, And Pauline should have just thirty minutes to live! But to light a pastile, and Elise, with her head And her breast and her arms and her hands, should drop dead!

    6. VII Quick – is it finished? The colour’s too grim! Why not soft like the phial’s, enticing and dim? Let it brighten her drink, let her turn it and stir, And try it and taste, ere she fix and prefer! VIII What a drop! She’s not little, no minion like me! That’s why she ensnared him; this never will free The soul from those masculine eyes, - say, ‘no!’ That to pulse’s magnificent come-and-go. IX For only last night, as they whispered, I brought My own eyes to bear on her so, that I thought Could I keep them one half minute fixed, she would fall Shrivelled; she fell not; yet this does it all! X Not that I bid you spare her the pain; Let death be flt and the proof remain: Brand, burn up, bite into its grace – He is sure to remember her dying face! XI Is it done? Take my mask off! Nay, be not morose; It kills her, and this prevents seeing it close: The delicate droplet, my whole fortune’s fee! If it hurts her, beside, can it ever hurt me? XII Now, take all my jewels, gorge gold to your fill, You may kiss me, old man, on my mouth if you will! But brush this dust off me, lest horror it brings Ere I know it – next moment I dance at the King’s!

    7. Where the people associated with the King meet The time is the Ancien Regime.. A time of privilege for the aristocrats France in the 18th century A time for love affairs at court But in a laboratory… A lady is plotting to murder her rival POISON Away from the court..

    8. Annotate the text What can you infer and interpret?

    9. The Laboratory by Robert Browning ANCIEN REGIME I Now that I, tying thy glass mask tightly, May gaze thro’ these faint smokes curling whitely, As thou pliest thy trade in this devil’s –smithy – Which is the poison to poison her, prithee? II He is with her, and they know that I know Where they are, what they do: they believe my tears flow While they laugh, laugh at me, at me fled to the drear Empty church, to pray God in, for them! – I am here. III Grind away, moisten and mash up thy paste, Pound at thy powder, - I am not in haste! Better sit thus, and observe thy strange things, Than go where men wait me and dance at the King’s. IV That in the mortar – you call it a gum? Ah, the brave tree whence such gold oozings come! And yonder soft phial, the exquisite blue, Sure to taste sweetly, - is that poison too? V Had I but all of them, thee and thy treasures, What a wild crowd of invisible pleasures! To carry pure death in an earring, a casket, A signet, a fan-mount, a filigree basket! VI Soon, at the King’s, a mere lozenge to give, And Pauline should have just thirty minutes to live! But to light a pastile, and Elise, with her head And her breast and her arms and her hands, should drop dead! Devil’s workshop Plosive ‘p’ Mmmmm - alliteration

    10. Informal 2nd person Establishes relationship- she is the social superior As thou pliest thy trade in this devil's-smithy-- Which is the poison to poison her, prithee? Establishes victim’s gender Pray thee -please Repetition of poison makes it more sinister A polite request about a sinister action

    11. A dactyl=one strong stress followed by 2 weak stresses The rhythm of the poem, written in dactyls, helps here =weak stress = strong stress He is with her; and they know that I know Where they are, what they do: they believe my tears flow While they laugh, laugh at me, at me fled to the drear Empty church, to pray God in, for them! -- I am here. The repetition also makes her seem excited

    12. She’s fascinated by the process and asks questions She points at things Questions - show curiosity That in the mortar -- you call it a gum? Ah, the brave tree whence such gold oozings come! And yonder soft phial, the exquisite blue, Sure to taste sweetly, -- is that poison too? Notice how beauty and good things are linked to death and poison Browning describes the scene through the eyes of the lady and what attracts her attention. This is how he creates her character

    13. VII Quick – is it finished? The colour’s too grim! Why not soft like the phial’s, enticing and dim? Let it brighten her drink, let her turn it and stir, And try it and taste, ere she fix and prefer! VIII What a drop! She’s not little, no minion like me! That’s why she ensnared him; this never will free The soul from those masculine eyes, - say, ‘no!’ That to pulse’s magnificent come-and-go. IX For only last night, as they whispered, I brought My own eyes to bear on her so, that I thought Could I keep them one half minute fixed, she would fall Shrivelled; she fell not; yet this does it all! X Not that I bid you spare her the pain; Let death be flt and the proof remain: Brand, burn up, bite into its grace – He is sure to remember her dying face! XI Is it done? Take my mask off! Nay, be not morose; It kills her, and this prevents seeing it close: The delicate droplet, my whole fortune’s fee! If it hurts her, beside, can it ever hurt me? XII Now, take all my jewels, gorge gold to your fill, You may kiss me, old man, on my mouth if you will! But brush this dust off me, lest horror it brings Ere I know it – next moment I dance at the King’s! Blosive ‘b’

    14. Some gothic qualities in the poem An evil plot A deranged narrator A story of a murder A sinister setting madness secrets Which other poems in the anthology have some of these qualities?

    15. The Inspiration? The Poison Affair, in French history, was a scandal implicating a number of prominent persons at the court of King Louis XIV. It began with the trial of Marie Madeleine d'Aubray, marquise de Brinvilliers (c.1630–76). She conspired with her lover, Godin de Sainte-Croix, an army captain, to poison her father and two brothers in order to secure the family fortune and to end interference in her adulterous relationship. Her husband escaped the same fate by his willingness to comply with officials. An investigation was made, and the marquise fled abroad, but in 1676 she was arrested at Liège. The affair greatly worked on the popular imagination, and there were rumours that she had tried out her poisons on hospital patients. She was beheaded and then burned. The Brinvilliers trial attracted attention to other mysterious deaths. Parisian society had been seized by a fad for spiritualist séances, fortune-telling, and the use of love potions. Some of the quack practitioners undoubtedly also sold poison (called “inheritance powders” at the time); after their arrest they furnished the police with lists of their clients, who often were guilty merely of having their palms read or of buying an aphrodisiac, and accused them of complicity in their crimes.

    16. Summarise what you now know about the poem: • What is it about? (Content) • What themes are covered? • What tone does the poem have? • What literary devices have been used? • How effective is the poem for the reader?

    17. Summarise what you now know about the poem: • What is it about? A woman planning to kill a love rival in revenge • What themes are covered? Anger, revenge, hatred, death, loss • What tone does the poem have? Angry, aggressive, bitter, desperate • What literary devices have been used? Enjambement, metaphor, simile, alliteration, rhyme, dark imagery • How effective is the poem for the reader?

    18. MUST: Read and understand the poem The Laboratory (D)SHOULD: Annotate the poem, identifying literary devices (C )COULD: Evaluate the similarities and differences between the novel and the poem and identify the layers of meaning(B)