Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Let's start with the obvious then...

Right gang...
It's past my bedtime...
I'll admit something.  I don't have a plan for this.  I'm pretty sure that I've committed to make one of these blog entries every day until the literature exam.  And when I say I'll do something...
I had that idea about half an hour before I printed the pages and brought them to you.  So confident was I in it's goodideaness that I didn't check or review it!

The blog always was and still is a good idea.  Look at any previous post and bask in your communal glory.  The greatest capacity of the internet is to bring together communities with a shared interest; in this case you lot.

Concept One
When engaging in internet research it is always advisable to begin a the beginning.
Read the introductory blurb from the wikipedia entry for The Laboratory, then copy and paste the next stanza from the previous post.  Include a comment about the stanza.  
The first post has been completed for you.

This poem presents the desperately jealous feelings of a woman abandoned by her lover, who left her for a more womanly rival. It shows how deranged the protagonist's nature has become, who goes so far as to poison her rival in love. The use of rhyming quickens the pace of the poem, adding to the woman's increasing excitement as the apothecary grinds up the mixture. Many of Browning's poems were written about people with an unusual nature. At first glance, the poem appears to be written as if she were talking to the apothecary, but reading into it shows that she may be thinking to herself as at the start of the poem she tells the man to take his time, but as she thinks about the possibilities and power the poison will bring her she begins to hurry him. Her careless attitude towards her future crime suggests that she may have previously killed and does not care about being found out as she is proud of what she will have done.
It is set in seventieth century France and was written by Robert Browning. It was inspired by the life of Marie Madeleine Marguerite D'Aubray win Brivinlliers (1630-1676), who poisoned her father and two brothers and planned to poison her husband. [1] It was published in dramatic lyrics in 1842 with other famous poems such as My Last Duchess.

Who's with me then?



    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?

    It's already brilliant.

    I think you'd have to turn over a lot of stones to find an English teacher who could say they liked all The Anthology poems or poets but if you find one who doesn't like Browning report them immediately to whoever should know!

    I particularly admire the phrase 'smokes curling whitely', it sets the scene in the laboratory by the end of the second line. The tone is set by the phrase 'devils-smithy'; there are clearly diabolical deeds that go on here. The repetition of 'poison' in the last line leaves the listener in no doubt as to the nature of this conversation. The last word in the stanza, 'prithee', shows the that the speaker of the poem is someone with manners. 'Prithee' is an archaic form of I pray thee; meaning please.

  2. 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 mention of a 'drear empty church' paints another vivid image of what - perhaps - the female narrator feared most: lonelyness. She was willing to go to any length to regain that - relationship - which had been lost to her. By only addressing her husband as 'he', it seemed that she had no need for him as a smart individual; this may be proven by a lack of a proper name for her husband. It seemed, that he resided in the darkest corner of her mind as simply a companion; a 'male corps' to help stop the 'flow' of her 'tears'('male corps' derived from Duffy's Havisham poem; which shows an inter-ideological view that the lonely women unly bask in hatred as they seak love. When love is unknown, one takes refuge in the only thing life has been kind enough to teach: hatred)

    It is unusual that Browning would use a liquid verb - 'laugh' - in this stanza to present the distress that the narrator is feeling; as liquid sound connote to pleasantry. However, this could be taken as a mal-judgement on the narrator's part of the event that really did occur; that her jealous nature had misinterpreted her husband's flirtascious nature for marital unfaithfulness. Therefore making the liquid 'laugh', a reminder that all is pleasant outside the narrator's hallucinogenic mind.

  3. 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.

    She is ''not in haste'' and enjoys watching the deadly concotion being prepared in front of her- she takes pleasure in knowing she is going to get revenge. I get the impression that she cannot move on until she gets revenge, as she would rather ''observe thy strange things'' than ''go where men wait me''; she would rather watch the apothecary at work, than ''dance at the King's''. It suggests that, although she is wanted by men, she is too attached to her husband and lets her jealousy take over. However, it could also hint that her thoughts are detached from reality, and lead to the reader asking whether she really is wanted, suggesting that perhaps her jealous and paranoid nature led to her convincing herself her husband is being unfaithful. This is furthened by ''I am not in haste''; the act is pre-meditated, suggesting the narrator has thought the plan through many times, perhaps the same way she overthinks her husband's actions.

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  5. 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?

    This stanza reveals to the reader how obsessed the speaker has become with the poison which is being made. She describes the gum tree as "brave". This is an example of personification, where the tree is being given the human characteristic of bravery. It shows us how much the speaker admires the poison. She also uses unusual words to describe the poison, "Soft", "sweetly" and "exquisite" may have been used to describe a fine item of food, but in this case the speaker of the poem has attributed these positive words to the poison which she plans to use.

    It also tells us a lot about the character featured in this poem. She seems to be transfixed by the poison, becoming even excited to witness it being mixed. The use of an exclamation mark at the end of line fourteen shows us this excitement. This leads me on to think that she enjoys what she does, and that she is looking forward to revenge and will not have any regret for her actions, despite how deranged they seem to be.

  6. 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!'
    To that pulse's magnificent come-and-go.

    Straight away, the use of the word 'minion' stands out to me in this stanza. Mainly for the fact a minion is someone who is a follower, or is a lot less superior to a more powerful person. The speaker is clearly putting herself down by saying this, and by telling us that 'she's not little' like herself, suggests that this other woman is superior in some way compared to the speaker. It sounds like she is very jealous and possibly intimidated by the other woman. 'What a drop!' Could refer to the substance she has just put in her drink to 'brighten' it.
    'That pulses magnificent come-and-go.' The joining of the words come and go, suggest that she is showing us literally, that their pulses will come and go right after another in a sequence just as it had been put to us.
    'this never will free The soul from those masculine eyes,' tells me that perhaps she is a deep/spiritual person, and a romantic for the fact she believes someone's soul can be captured in another's eyes and never set free again. And as the speaker has said 'this never will free The soul from those masculine eyes,' straight before 'say, 'no!'' Could mean that either she is trying to help the other woman, by telling her not to fall into the man's trap and break free before it's too late; or that she is wanting her to say 'no' so that she can have him for herself again because she is a very jealous woman, and that is shown throughout the poem.

  7. 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 not all!

    The spurned woman, in this stanza, catches a glimpse of her unfaithful, and his 'consort'; the gaze lingers on her husband's lover, where she believes that for 'one minute fixed, she would fall'; basically, she believed, or willed with her evidently fervent rage, that her love rival would drop dead before her, merely because of her 'will' for it to happen; obviously, this does nothing to exenuate the bloodlust the speaker feels, and gives the author a deeper empathy when it comes to understanding her state of mind.

    Another thing which stood out was the phrase "She/Would fall,/Shrivelled" which is a very simplistic yet bleak description of how her rival would have died, at the behest of the speaker's glare. After this description, which is shameless and unrestrained, the speaker is disappointed at the fact she 'fell not' though is once again back into her bitter excitement; "Yet this does not all!" showing us the will for her rival's death has transcended mere thought and will, into an actual act; her glee regarding the poison is a trait seen throughout the poem.