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How to Read a Poem
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The Laboratory Analysis
Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay
Form and Meter
Rhyming Couplets and (Wait for It…) Anapestic TetrameterThis poem is divided up into chunks of four lines. In poetry, a chunk of lines is called a stanza (it works like a paragraph does in prose)...
We learn a ton about the speaker of this poem. In fact, she spends most of the poem describing her feelings, desires, plans, fantasies, etc. We learn that she's wealthy enough to have jewels, and t...
Just like the title tells us, this takes place in a laboratory. We don't get a lot of details, but the ones we do get give us a pretty good feeling for the atmosphere. There's smoke and dust and my...
When we read it out loud (you know, in private—this is not a poem to recite on your city bus), we hear a nervous, jumpy rhythm in this poem. It sounds like the sound of footsteps as someone paces...
What's Up With the Title?
The title, "The Laboratory," may not seem like much, but it does a few different things in this poem. On the most basic level, it sets the scene. Even though the speaker of the poem never says it,...
The Dramatic Monologue"The Laboratory" is basically a single, uninterrupted speech delivered by one character in the poem to another. In a play, that's what you would call a monologue. Browning is...
(5) Tree Line The basic themes of this poem—jealousy, revenge, murder—are pretty clear. Still, there are a lot of old-fashioned words like "thee" and "thy" to get though, plus some tricky vocab...
Browning knew Latin, Greek and French by the time he was 14! How's your Spanish homework coming? (Source.) Browning eloped to Italy with his equally famous wife, the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning...
PGWe hate to disappoint, but there's not a ton of actual sex here. Still, all the stuff about finding the most painful way to make a woman die so her boyfriend has to watch her writhe in agony migh...
Historical ReferencesMarie-Madeleine-Marguerite d'Aubray, Marquise de Brinvilliers: Browning doesn't refer to it directly, but this whole poem is based on a true story. The inspiration for "The Lab...
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