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The Laboratory

The Laboratory

by Robert Browning

Smoke

Symbol Analysis

Here's a second sinister symbol! (Argh, more alliteration! How awful! What have you done to us, Bobby Browning?) Just like the glass mask, the smoke in the lab lets us know that we're in a creepy place where bad stuff happens. Combined with the line about the devil's-smithy (3) this lets us know that the lab is a kind of underworld. It makes a perfect pair with the bright, glittering paradise that our speaker has come from.

  • Line 2: The smoke is only mentioned once, but we love the image of it "curling whitely." Doesn't that just make you think of every villain's hideout you've ever seen in a movie? It reminds us of a scene from every Disney cartoon. Can't you just picture that white smoke curling around Ursula the Sea Witch, or the Wicked Queen? Bad things tend to happen once the white smoke gets going.
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