The Laboratory Essay

741 WordsNov 27, 20123 Pages
"The Laboratory" SUMMARY The poem is narrated by a young woman to an apothecary who is preparing her a poison with which to kill her rivals at a nearby royal court. She pushes him to complete the potion, while lamenting how her beloved is not only being unfaithful, but also doing so in full knowledge that she knows of it. But where they think she must be somewhere in grief, she is proud to be instead plotting their murder. She notes the ingredients he uses, paying particular attention to their texture and color. She hopes the poison will "taste sweetly" so she can poison the two ladies she has in her sights. Though she is a "minion" unlike her competitors, she will have the last laugh by having them killed in a painful way that will also torment her beloved. When it is complete, she promises the apothecary both her fortune (her "jewels" and "gold") but also lets him kiss her. Finally, she is ready to go dancing at the king's and end her torment. ANALYSIS This wicked little poem, first published in Dramatic Romances and Lyrics in 1845, is most notable for the exhilaration of the writing. The rhyme scheme is regular, with an ABAC structure that makes each short stanza playful until the dramatic break of its last line. The voice is wonderfully captured, and we see that this woman is enlivened by more than just revenge; she is enlivened by the power that murder allows her to have. Notice that when she first mentions her untrue beloved, she only mentions one woman, but a few stanzas later, she mentions both "Pauline" and "Elise" as targets. She is already being taken away with the potential to kill. While the rhyme scheme is regular, the enjambments stress that she is willing to lose a bit of control, to let this impulse take her. Further, if winning her husband or lover back was the only goal, she would not take so much glee in the prospect of

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