• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

A Comparison Between 'Porphyria's Lover' And 'The Laboratory'

Extracts from this document...


A Comparison Between 'Porphyria's Lover' And 'The Laboratory' Robert Browning lived during the Victorian era and wrote poems on a wide variety of subjects. Browning was intrigued by abnormal states of mind and two poems based upon this were 'Porphyria's Lover', written in 1836, and 'The Laboratory', written in 1844. Porphyria's Lover' is an account of a young woman's last moments alive written by her lover and murderer. The poem opens on a wild, stormy night with the gentleman sitting alone and depressed. The gentleman's lover, Porphyria, entered the cottage and lit a fire in the grate. Once the woman had removed her hat, coat and shawl she called the gentleman to her, he didn't reply so she approached him and put her arms around his waist. The woman then proceeded to lean her lovers head against her bare shoulder and whispered that she loved him. The lines; Too weak for all her hearts endeavour, To set its struggling passion free. From pride and vainer ties dissever, And give her self to me for ever. Suggest that Porphyria was possibly of a higher social class than her lover and could not commit herself to him as it would be frowned upon. After a moment's thought, the gentleman realises this woman must love him as she was at a 'gay feast', but her love and passion for him willed her to leave the feast and travel through the storm to be with him. ...read more.


Robert Browning's other poem; 'The Laboratory' is also about a psychotic murderer. The poem opens with the verse: Now that I, tying they glass mask tightly, May gave through these faint smokes curling whitely, As thou pliest thy trade in this devil's smithy - Which is the poison to poison her prithee? From the mention of poisoning a female we know that a murder is being planned. The reader is able to imagine the scene as the culprit ties the fume mask around her face and gazes around the laboratory at all the concoctions. The thought of curling white smoke suggests that Arsenic is being prepared. The second verse indicates the motive for the murder. The culprit is female and wishes her lover's mistress dead for the betrayal. The woman imagines her lover to be laughing at her misfortune while he believes her to be at church crying for her loss, he is oblivious to her whereabouts as demonstrated in the lines; 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 next verse of the poem uses alliteration and rhyme when describing the making of the poison. This sets a sort of rhythm to the poem and may make it more appealing to the reader. 'Grind away, moisten and mash up thy pasts, Pound at thy prouder - I am not in haste.' ...read more.


The use of metaphors allows the reader to compare the situation or object in question to another thus allowing the reader to visualise more clearly. The similarity between the two poems is that they are both written in the first person i.e. the psychopath, and are originated from loving relationships. The differences in the poems are that one is motivated by a love and a fear of loss and the other from love, loss and jealous hatred. A noticeable difference in poems is the tenses. 'Porphyria's Lover' was written in the past tense as an account of the murder which had taken place. 'The Laboratory' was written in the present and future tense as a plan of how a murder is to take place. The style and format is another difference between the two poems. Of the two poems, I preferred 'Porphyria's Lover' because it was written as an account with an ending,where-as 'The Laboratory' was written without concluding whether the murder was carried out. Another reason for me preferring this poem was that it captured the true mind of a psychotic murderer; the gentleman did not understand how awful his actions were and believed his actions had been justified as God had not objected. I found it horrific that someone could be so determined that they had done no wrong that they would let their faith and God distinguish whether they had done rite or wrong as opposed to their own conscience. ?? ?? ?? ?? Roxanne Durrant, 11Y, September 2004 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Robert Browning section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Robert Browning essays

  1. How does Browning present the idea of love in 'The Laboratory' and 'My Last ...

    of the poison. This may be because she is shocked and mesmerised by the power of the poison but it may be because she is disappointed with the measly amount there is, after all her aim is have full control. The ninth stanza sees the narrator trying to justify her reasons to kill,

  2. "Porphyria's Lover" and "The Laboratory"

    This is seductive and erotic; the attire she is wearing is another sign that Porphyria is wealthier than the lover. In the Victorian era "cloak", "shawl", "gloves" and "hat" are all signs of affluence. The lover is watching with resentment as she does this.

  1. Compare the presentation of relationships in My Last Duchess, Porphyrias Lover and ...

    The lover does not show any guilt or remorse about the death. "I am quite sure she felt no pain/ As a shut bud that holds a bee" This tells us that he has no remorse for killing her because now that she has died he can have her for himself and nobody else would be able to have her.

  2. How does Browning in Porphyria's lover and Laboratory convey the workings of a diseased ...

    She then "blazes up the fireplace, and all the cottage warm" which is significant because she just changes the atmosphere through her presence and also she is in control over fire "blaze up". She's also being described for a high class background "soiled gloves" which shows us that soiled gloves

  1. Porphyria's Lover: A poem of its time?

    However, Porphyria begins to undress and then shows the narrator her bare shoulder: "made her smooth white shoulder bare" In the nineteenth century doing this was similar to outright asking for sex. Even with moral decay and scandal a part of everyday life, this would have shocked the Victorian reader,

  2. How do the poems "Havisham", "The Sisters" and "Porphyria's Lover" present the theme of ...

    However, the last verse is where Havisham's anger grows and grows - 'I stabbed at wedding cake', 'give me a male corpse' - until finally she lets go 'b-b-b-breaks' and both her mind and life brake down. Using all these devices and techniques, such as satire, colour and adding additional themes, Duffy presents Havisham's madness very effectively and successfully.

  1. The Laboratory by Robert Browning

    The fifth stanza enrols in telling us how the speaker is going to carry the poison. The quote "To carry pure death in an earring, a casket" tells us that she is planning to store the deadly concoction in an earring or casket.

  2. Havisham and Laboratory Coursework

    In this case it is about Dickens' character from Great Expectations; Miss Havisham. The beginning of the poem is addressed at the man who jilted her saying how much she hates him now and wants to get revenge: "Beloved sweetheart bastard.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work