Essay Question: Discuss both poets of murder, revenge and violence in Salome by Carol Ann Duffy and The Laboratory by Robert Browning. With reference to language, structure and poetic devices.

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Essay Question: Discuss both poets’ of murder, revenge and violence in ‘Salome’ by Carol Ann Duffy and ‘The Laboratory’ by Robert Browning. With reference to language, structure and poetic devices.

        In this essay, I will be analysing murder, revenge and violence in “Salome” by Carol Ann Duffy and “The Laboratory” by Robert Browning. I will be referring to both the poems, focusing on language, structure and poetic devices.

        The Biblical version of ‘Salome’ was set in the Kings Chambers. It took place around AD 30.  This version was about Salome who danced for Herod’s birthday feast. Her step father Herod was captivated by her lascivious performance so he was willing to offer her whatever she desiderated. John Baptist believed it was unacceptable as Salome’s mother formerly had an affair with Herod. Salome was persuaded by her mother to call for the head of John the Baptist

        Carol Ann Duffy’s version of ‘Salome’ was written before 1914. Duffy updates the biblical version of Salome and is writing from a perspective of a modern day Salome. She presents Salome as a ‘modern girl on the town’ who frequently goes out drinking and ends up with a one night stand. Also Duffy presents Salome a modern day ‘vigilante’ and a sexual predator which is a role usually associated with men. Many of Carol Ann Duffy’s poems reflect on time, age and loss. It is about a female psychopath who takes advantage of her attractiveness by deceiving men and luring them to her bedroom. Then kills her victims who use her to reclaim her power and reverse the roles of men and women. Moreover, Duffy conveys that Salome feels as if many women are mistreated by men and wants to prove that women have the same abilities as men. The poem explains Salome’s attitude, behaviour and feelings or her views on killing men. She draws attention of the mistreatment of women which are abused and tormented by men.

        The poem ‘Salome’ is a dramatic monologue. A dramatic monologue is a type of poem; which is based during the Victorian period. It is a speech where the actual speaker is speaking to the audience. Carol Ann Duffy uses dramatic monologue to emphasise Salome’s motives, actions, feelings and behaviour. This is seen in the words “I’d done it before, (and doubtless I’ll do it again, sooner or later.)” The quote “I’ll do it again” emphasises that Salome is cold hearted, callous and is prepared for killing more men. This could also suggest that her actions are premeditated. Also, the words show that Salome she is careless and obsessed with killing men. She does not fear any consequences that may occur after the death of the men she killed. This shows that her attitudes to violence are very casual.

        The attitudes towards men and women compared to the biblical times and now are very different. In the past the stereo types for men were associated as sexual predators and more superior than women. Women were seen as subservient, passive and inferior compared to the men. Now men and women are both treated equally. However, women are sometimes seen as objects to satisfy men’s desires; and men sometimes see women as easy targets. The words “turf out the blighter” symbolises the men who exploit or abuse vulnerable women, Salome perhaps describes the men as a plague and it is her duty to rid the world of humanity. Usually men see women who are emotionally terrified, weak and powerless as easy targets. In Salome’s mind, she believes it is her responsibility to “turf out” the men who behave in an abusive manner. The verb “turf out” is used in today’s society, this suggests that she wants to get rid of something or believes it has no value.

        ‘The Laboratory’ was written by Robert Browning before 1914. This was set in France before the French revolution ‘Ancient regime.’ Browning creates a voice of a woman to make the reader understand the speaker’s behaviour and actions. In the poem a woman (whose name is not mentioned) discovers her husband and his lover (Pauline) are betraying her; for this reason she becomes demented, deceptive and eager to take revenge. She decides to take an unhealthy interest by visiting the apothecary so she can create a powerful poison to murder her rival. After the potion is made, the apothecary who had agreed to make the poison was rewarded with all her jewels and a kiss. Throughout the poem, it seems as if the speaker’s husband or lover is a serial philanderer. However, this is not the case as she is excessively jealous of Pauline and a woman called Elise as well.

        Robert Browning uses the dramatic monologue to convey setting, action and also reveals the insanity of the character. This mainly reveals that the speaker is seeking revenge on her lover and her mistress. “Let it brighten her drink, let her turn it and stir, And try it and taste, ere fix and prefer.” This conveys the idea of jealously, also that she will be satisfied if her lovers mistress life ends. In many ways, ‘The Laboratory’ is profoundly a sinister poem. Robert Browning creates a voice of a woman in the eighteenth century. It is a dramatic poem where it is narrated by one person who is expressing the matter of the poem in their own point of view. It is not the poet speaking to us, but the voice of the character he has created. In ‘Salome’ and ‘The Laboratory’ both the speakers want to take revenge however the speakers of the poem have different motives. ‘The laboratory’ motive is for the speaker to only kill her lover and his two mistresses as she feels they have betrayed her, also she has a feeling of jealousy towards them. However, ‘Salome’s’ motives differ as she is not jealous and reclaims her power by killing the men who take advantage of women.  

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        I believe murder, revenge and violence are important themes as it creates very crucial moments which draws the reader’s attention. It has a great impact in a way which the audience are left in suspense and builds their curiosity. The poets draw us to the murderers’ worlds by the description of events to demonstrate the characters feelings.  This is apparent in Robert Browning’s poem “smokes curling”, “gold oozing” and “taste sweetly” the descriptions of the speakers words show that she is fascinated by the making of the potion because of her twisted and demented plan to kill Pauline. As “poison” ...

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