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The Laboratory

The Laboratory


by Robert Browning

Stanza 7 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Line 25

Quick—is it finished? The colour's too grim!

  • Now our speaker snaps out of her weird little revenge fantasy and wonders if the poison is done.
  • Apparently, she's also a little bit picky. She checks on the poison-maker's progress and decides she doesn't like the color. It's too "grim," according to her. 
  • No, we get that. Who wouldn't want her poison to look pretty?

Line 26

Why not soft like the phial's, enticing and dim? 

  • She decides that she'd like her custom-made poison to look more like the "enticing" (inviting) one in the phial (15). 
  • It's kind of like choosing the right paint color for your bedroom—except with murder. The speaker's fantasies of murder are pretty specific, right down to the color of the poison itself.

Line 27-28

Let it brighten her drink, let her turn it and stir,
And try it and taste, ere she fix and prefer! 

  • Now her ghoulish imagination is back at work. 
  • She thinks about slipping the poison in her rival's drink, and watching her enjoy how bright it looks. She imagines the poor woman stirring and tasting her poison drink, totally unaware that she's about to die.

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