Year 10

Have a look at the above link for analysis help on the poem.

Story suggestions...
  • Narrative from the driver's viewpoint
  • A what happens next follow on story
  • Police interview with the hitch hiker after he is caught
  • You could base you narrative on the events leading up to the killing incident
  • psychiatrist's point of view
  • You could turn the poem as it is into a short story
Remember, consider emotions and feelings, this guy is unhinged and/ or even psychotic-I would recommend you read American Psycho By Brett Easton Ellis or Post Office by Charles Bukowski for inspiration if you're still stuck.

Don't forget-vary your sentences. Short sentences, even one or two word sentences are very effective in portraying tension or suspense or showing the hitcher's unhinged thoughts.
Vary punctuation don't just go for the obvious exclamation point, try different things ()-:;"...etc.

Get planning and see where your plans and rough outlines take you. Good luck,
Ms Kerai

Essentially, this poem is about someone remembering something from their childhood and not having the courage to stand up against an injustice that had happened in the past-they are regretful of their inability to intervene and stop the bullying.
For your creative writing assessment you must consider the following:
  • what themes from this poem can you take and use in your own short story?
  • who's perspective are you going to write in: Tich's, 'Tubby's', the other girls, or third person?
  • what poetic images from the poem are you going to develop?
  • how are you going to incorporate sensory imagery into your work?
Draft a plan and let your teacher have a look at it and then have a go at rough drafting your work and see what you think...
‘Romeo and Juliet’  Drama Speaking and Listening

Script a Chat Show where the main characters discuss their points of view and emotions based on the events in the play up to and including Act 3 scene 5.
Characters include:
Chat Show Host – who will also give advice and ‘counselling’

Choice of Titles (Or make up your own)
Fathers and daughters   
The Problems with Forbidden Love


·        Have a specific angle which enables every character to talk a lot.
·        Each person must write their own questions and give them to the Host.
·        Answers don’t have to be fully scripted but you must know what you will say and it must be detailed and developed. A few lines will mean a weak grade.
·        Get in character – think about how your character will feel and respond.
·        The Host must give a chat show style introduction; ask the questions and develop discussion; and offer advice at the end before concluding.

The Audience

When others are performing, you will be the audience and will gain marks for asking questions.

Mark Scheme

B5: Create a complex role, making inventive use of a range of appropriate
      techniques to direct the response of the audience. Show sophisticated and
      original ideas through exploration of the character.
B4:  Analyse and explain difficult ideas. Resolve problems or outcomes
      through thoughtful  responses.
B3:  Analyse imagined experiences, develop significant points and respond
B2:  Develop and sustain a role effectively through speech, movement and


I know many of you are worried about this controlled assessment. You might be feeling worried about how to start or how to end. You might be unsure about the quotes you've collected. You might feel uneasy about using historical context in your answer.

This is your first major GCSE assessment, and you have every right to feel worried and nervous, but once you have the basics sorted, then trust me- you'll be OK.
  1. Make sure you know what the question is asking of you- EMOTIONAL VOICE and HOW IT IS PRESENTED. Revise that Romeo graph we did a while back where you had to trace Romeo's fluctuating emotions. Then brainstorm all the different emotions that the speakers of My Last Duchess and The Laboratory go through(look at personality traits such as arrogance, selfishness, control, jealousy, anger) and see if there are any links with Romeo in Romeo and Juliet.
  2. Link contextual info with each point if you can e.g male/female roles, sexuality and women (thanks Ishmeal for this useful point), Petrarchan and Courtly love, manly characteristics, etc.
  3. COMMENT ON LANGUAGE! It's all very well and good quoting, but you MUST comment on the language effects of the quote you've picked: the speaker in The Lab is clearly very excited by the prospect of killing her wrongdoers when she says 'grind away, moisten and mash up thy paste! Pound at thy powder, - I am not in haste!' WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF THE ALLITERATION, THE PUNCTUATION AND THE LAST WORDS IN THIS LINE?
  4. One more time EFFECT! EFFECT! EFFECT!
  5. Give a personal opinion in the conclusion of how successful the emotional portrayals are. Round off the essay with a summative connective (To conclude, In summation, I believe that, As a final point, etc)


How do writers create emotional voices for Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and the speakers in a selection of Browning Monologues.


Controlled Assessment dates: 30th November 2012-3rd December 2012


8:30 start in the HALL

  • How can I go from identifying key language and poetic devices to explaining them? (Band 2 to Band 3)
  • How can I go from explaining them to analysing their effects? (Band 3 to Band 4)
  • How can I go from analysing poetic language to exploring and interpreting it? (Band 4 to Band 5)

Why has alliteration been used in The Laboratory?

Band 2 – Identify and describe (what is the effect):
Browning uses alliteration in the ____ stanza as a way of portraying the emotions of the speaker.

Band 3 – Identify and explain (How): Now quote the relevant example:
An example of this is, “______________________".  

Band 4 – Analyse (Why): Now analyse the effects of the alliteration .
The words “___________________” suggest that the speaker feels ___________”. 

Band 5 – Explore (Why double time):
Now explore. LINK to other quotations in the poem in which the same technique is used. Or LINK to another technique used in the same quotation and discuss the effects of both combined. Or tie it to CULTURAL CONTEXT. 

What does punctuation tell you about the emotions of the speaker of The Laboratory?

Band 2 – Identify and describe (what is the effect):
Browning also uses punctuation as a way of portraying the emotions of the speaker.

Band 3 – Identify and explain (How): Now quote the relevant example:
This can be seen when the speaker says, “______________________” and also in the line, “__________”

Band 4 – Analyse (Why): Now analyse the effects of the alliteration .
The use of “___________________” suggest that the speaker feels ____________________”. We know this because­­­­­________________...

Band 5 – Explore (Why double time):
Now explore. LINK to other quotations in the poem in which the same technique is used. Or LINK to another technique used in the same quotation and discuss the effects of both combined. Or tie it to CULTURAL CONTEXT. 

Do the same thing for the points below:

      Oxymora and antithesis in Romeo and Juliet
      Monologue and dialogue
      Use of personal pronoun in the Browning poems
      Use pronouns in general (jealousy/love)
      ‘Thou art a villain’… ‘Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries’…in Romeo and Juliet

Band 2 – Identify and describe (what is the effect)
Band 3 – Identify and explain (How): Now quote the relevant example
Band 4 – Analyse (Why): Now analyse the effects of the alliteration
Band 5 – Explore (Why double time)
Now explore. LINK to other quotations in the poem in which the same technique is used. Or LINK to another technique used in the same quotation and discuss the effects of both combined. Or tie it to CULTURAL CONTEXT. 

The Laboratory, by Robert Browning

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?

He is with her; and they know that I know
Where they are, what they do: they believe my tears flow
While they laughing, laugh at me, at me fled to the drear
Empty church, to pray God in, for them! -- I am here.

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.

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?

Had I but all of them, thee and thy treasures,
What a wild crowd of invisible pleasures!
To carry pure death in an earring, a casket,
A signet, a fan-mount, a filigree-basket!

Soon, at the King's, a mere lozenge to give
And Pauline should have just thirty minutes to live!
But to light a pastille, and Elise, with her head
And her breast and her arms and her hands, should drop dead!

Quick -- is it finished? The colour's too grim!
Why not soft like the phial's, enticing and dim?
Let it brighten her drink, let her turn it and stir,
And try it and taste, ere she fix and prefer!

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.

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 it all!

Not that I bid you spare her the pain!
Let death be felt and the proof remain;
Brand, burn up, bite into its grace--
He is sure to remember her dying face!

Is it done? Take my mask off! Nay, be not morose
It kills her, and this prevents seeing it close:
The delicate droplet, my whole fortune's fee--
If it hurts her, beside, can it ever hurt me?

Now, take all my jewels, gorge gold to your fill,
You may kiss me, old man, on my mouth if you will!
But brush this dust off me, lest horror it brings
Ere I know it -- next moment I dance at the King's!

A really ace video analysis of the poem, there's some real context here:

The subtitle to Robert Browning's poem “The Laboratory”, “Ancien Regime”, tells us that it is set in France before the revolution, when the old regime of the monarchy was still in place. The poem is a dramatic monologue. The narrator appears to be a woman, a fact which is not apparent in the opening stanza, but becomes so as the poem develops. 

In the first stanza, the narrator addresses another person using the terms 'thou' and 'thy', which are the old-fashioned familiar forms of 'you' and 'your'. She is putting on a mask and watching the person in the laboratory through a haze of smoke: 'thro' these faint smokes curling whitely'. The narrator refers to the laboratory as 'this devil's-smithy', which is the first sign that something sinister is going on. The final line of this stanza leaves us in no doubt of this, as the woman asks, 'Which is the poison to poison her, prithee?' The repetition of 'poison' emphasises its importance. 

The opening phrase of the second stanza, 'He is with her,' suggests that the narrator has asked for poison to be concocted because she is jealous. It would seem that her lover has deserted her for another woman. She says that they think she is crying and has gone to pray in 'the drear / Empty church'. The couple, meanwhile, are making fun of her, stressed by the repetition of 'laugh' in line 7. The stanza closes with the brief phrase 'I am here', emphasising the setting of the laboratory which is in such sharp contrast to the church. 

The phrase 'Grind away' at the start of the third stanza shows the woman's eagerness for the chemist to make the poison. Browning brings the description alive by using alliteration in the phrases 'moisten and mash' and 'Pound at thy powder'. The narrator is not in a hurry and says she would rather watch the concocting of the poison than be dancing at the King's court. 

In the fourth stanza the narrator comments on the ingredients of the poison. The chemist is mixing it with a pestle and mortar, and the woman describes the gum from a tree as 'gold oozings', giving the impression that it is both beautiful and valuable. She then looks at a blue liquid in a 'soft phial', finding the colour 'exquisite'. She imagines that it will taste sweet because of its beautiful appearance and is surprised that it is a poison. 

Stanza five begins with the narrator wishing she possessed all the ingredients, which she refers to as 'treasures'. Browning uses personification to describe them as 'a wild crowd', and the woman considers them as 'pleasures', a sinister attitude to poisonous substances. The use of the adjective 'invisible' means that just a tiny amount would be required. The narrator delights in the thought of being able to carry 'pure death' in any one of a list of small accessories, such as an earring or a fan-mount. 

In the sixth stanza the narrator turns her thoughts to how easy it will be at court to give 'a mere lozenge', like a sweet, that will kill a woman in just half an hour. She names two women in this stanza, Pauline and Elise, and it is not clear if one of them is the current target of her jealousy and desire to murder. She delights at the thought of Elise dying, and Browning uses enjambment to create the list 'her head / And her breast and her arms and her hands', perhaps because she is jealous of Elise's beauty. 

The seventh stanza opens with the sudden exclamation 'Quick!' and the narrator is now excited as the poison is ready. She then reveals her disappointment, however, as its colour is 'grim', unlike the blue liquid in the phial. She hoped that it would make her intended victim's drink look so appetising that she would be encouraged to drink it. In the eighth stanza she is concerned about how tiny the amount of poison is: 'What a drop!' She says that the other woman is considerably bigger than her, and thinks that she 'ensnared' or caught the man in her trap because of her size. The narrator is not convinced that the drop of poison will be fatal: 'this never will free / The soul from those masculine eyes'. It will not be enough to stop the victim's pulse, which the narrator describes as 'magnificent'. 

In the ninth stanza the narrator recounts, in lines using enjambment, how she had gazed at the other woman the previous evening when her ex-lover was with whispering to her. She had hoped that by staring at her she 'would fall shrivelled'. This obviously did not happen, but the narrator knows that the poison will do its work. Stanza ten has slightly shorter lines than the others, and the narrator addresses the chemist directly. She knows that the poison will act quickly, but she does not want her victim to have an easy death: 'Not that I bid you spare her the pain'. Browning uses alliteration in a cluster of three to describe how the narrator wants the other woman to suffer the effects of the poison, in the phrase 'Brand, burn up, bite'. The stanza ends with the narrator commenting that her ex-lover will always have the memory of the pain on the dying woman's face, and she appears to relish this thought.

The narrator asks the chemist if the poison is ready at the start of the eleventh stanza. She asks him to remove her mask and not to be 'morose', or gloomy. The poison will be lethal for her victim, and she does not want the mask to stop her having a good look at it. She describes it with the alliterative phrase 'a delicate droplet', and alliteration appears again as she comments 'my whole fortune's fee!' meaning that it has cost her everything she owns. In the closing line of the stanza, she wonders if she herself can be harmed by the poison, considering the effect it will have on her victim.

The twelfth and final stanza begins with the narrator once again showing how much the poison is costing her. She tells the chemist 'Now take all my jewels, gorge gold to your fill', and the alliteration in the phrase 'gorge gold' adds emphasis. She shows her gratitude by telling the chemist, whom she addresses as 'old man', that he may kiss her on her lips if he would like to. She asks him, however, to 'brush this dust off' her, referring to traces of poison, as she is afraid it will harm her too: 'lest horror it brings'. The poem ends as she proclaims that she will 'dance at the King's!' a triumphant announcement. Whether or not her victim dies from ingesting the poison, we do not know, but she shows no remorse and is obviously determined to go through with her murderous plan.

Browning has used an anapaestic metre in “The Laboratory”, in other words two stressed syllables followed by one unstressed one. This gives the lines of poetry an upbeat, fast-paced rhythm that convey the woman's excitement at the idea of poisoning her victim. Browning has created a character who is totally ruthless and eaten up by jealousy, determined to carry out an act of revenge that will prove fatal to another woman.

My Last Duchess, by Robert Browning

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall, 

Looking as if she were alive. I call 

That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf’s hands 

Worked busily a day, and there she stands. 

Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said 
“Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read 
Strangers like you that pictured countenance, 
The depth and passion of its earnest glance, 
But to myself they turned (since none puts by 
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I) 
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst, 
How such a glance came there; so, not the first 
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not 
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot 
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek: perhaps 
Fra Pandolf chanced to say “Her mantle laps 
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint 
Must never hope to reproduce the faint 
Half-flush that dies along her throat”: such stuff 
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough 
For calling up that spot of joy. She had 
A heart—how shall I say?—too soon made glad, 
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er 
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere. 
Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast, 
The dropping of the daylight in the West, 
The bough of cherries some officious fool 
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule 
She rode with round the terrace—all and each 
Would draw from her alike the approving speech, 
Or blush, at least. She thanked men,—good! but thanked 
Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked 
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name 
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame 
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill 
In speech—(which I have not)—to make your will 
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this 
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss, 
Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let 
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set 
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse, 
—E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose 
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt, 
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without 
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands; 
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands 
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet 
The company below, then. I repeat, 
The Count your master’s known munificence 
Is ample warrant that no just pretence 
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed; 
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed 
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go 
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though, 
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity, 
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

The ever faithful fount of all truth, Wikipedia:

A really good video analysis of the poem:

This poem is loosely based on historical events involving Alfonso, the Duke of Ferrara, who lived in the 16th century. The Duke is the speaker of the poem, and tells us he is entertaining an emissary who has come to negotiate the Duke’s marriage (he has recently been widowed) to the daughter of another powerful family. As he shows the visitor through his palace, he stops before a portrait of the late Duchess, apparently a young and lovely girl. The Duke begins reminiscing about the portrait sessions, then about the Duchess herself. His musings give way to a diatribe on her disgraceful behavior: he claims she flirted with everyone and did not appreciate his “gift of a nine-hundred-years- old name.” As his monologue continues, the reader realizes with ever-more chilling certainty that the Duke in fact caused the Duchess’s early demise: when her behavior escalated, “[he] gave commands; / Then all smiles stopped together.” Having made this disclosure, the Duke returns to the business at hand: arranging for another marriage, with another young girl. As the Duke and the emissary walk leave the painting behind, the Duke points out other notable artworks in his collection.
“My Last Duchess” comprises rhyming pentameter lines. The lines do not employ end-stops; rather, they use enjambment—that is, sentences and other grammatical units do not necessarily conclude at the end of lines. Consequently, the rhymes do not create a sense of closure when they come, but rather remain a subtle driving force behind the Duke’s compulsive revelations. The Duke is quite a performer: he mimics others’ voices, creates hypothetical situations, and uses the force of his personality to make horrifying information seem merely colorful. Indeed, the poem provides a classic example of a dramatic monologue: the speaker is clearly distinct from the poet; an audience is suggested but never appears in the poem; and the revelation of the Duke’s character is the poem’s primary aim.
But Browning has more in mind than simply creating a colorful character and placing him in a picturesque historical scene. Rather, the specific historical setting of the poem harbors much significance: the Italian Renaissance held a particular fascination for Browning and his contemporaries, for it represented the flowering of the aesthetic and the human alongside, or in some cases in the place of, the religious and the moral. Thus the temporal setting allows Browning to again explore sex, violence, and aesthetics as all entangled, complicating and confusing each other: the lushness of the language belies the fact that the Duchess was punished for her natural sexuality. The Duke’s ravings suggest that most of the supposed transgressions took place only in his mind. Like some of Browning’s fellow Victorians, the Duke sees sin lurking in every corner. The reason the speaker here gives for killing the Duchess ostensibly differs from that given by the speaker of “Porphyria’s Lover” for murder Porphyria; however, both women are nevertheless victims of a male desire to inscribe and fix female sexuality. The desperate need to do this mirrors the efforts of Victorian society to mold the behavior—sexual and otherwise—of individuals. For people confronted with an increasingly complex and anonymous modern world, this impulse comes naturally: to control would seem to be to conserve and stabilize. The Renaissance was a time when morally dissolute men like the Duke exercised absolute power, and as such it is a fascinating study for the Victorians: works like this imply that, surely, a time that produced magnificent art like the Duchess’s portrait couldn’t have been entirely evil in its allocation of societal control—even though it put men like the Duke in power.
A poem like “My Last Duchess” calculatedly engages its readers on a psychological level. Because we hear only the Duke’s musings, we must piece the story together ourselves. Browning forces his reader to become involved in the poem in order to understand it, and this adds to the fun of reading his work. It also forces the reader to question his or her own response to the subject portrayed and the method of its portrayal. We are forced to consider, Which aspect of the poem dominates: the horror of the Duchess’s fate, or the beauty of the language and the powerful dramatic development? Thus by posing this question the poem firstly tests the Victorian reader’s response to the modern world—git asks, Has everyday life made you numb yet?—and secondly asks a question that must be asked of all art—it queries, Does art have a moral component, or is it merely an aesthetic exercise?


  1. Heyyyyy miss YOU DA BOMDIGGYDY
    From ishmael

    1. Err, OK!
      Don't forget to revise for the Controlled Assessment and all the best.
      Ms Kerai

  2. Is there foundation and higher?

    1. No, there is no higher or foundation. Some teachers might have offered a choice of 2 questions, but a band 5 is achievable on either question. Just remember to use PEE/PQE, link historical context, make links between the play and poem/s and comment on the EFFECT of language on portraying emotion.

      Best of luck. KR

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you very much, hope the assessment went well, all the best,
      Miss Kerai

  4. Do not fear, I'm positive that if you worked hard, revised well and met all the Assessment Objectives, you'll have done well. All the best,
    Miss Kerai

  5. hey miss can you post up some stuff on the creative writing on Tich miller and hitcher.
    thank you

  6. Hi Madhvi, have a look on the front page of the blog. I have put up some stuff on Tich Miller and just about to put up some stuff on Hitcher. The main thing you are being asked to do is use a poem as a spring board for story writing, you don't have to follow the poem exactly but you do have to reflect the main themes and ideas of the poem in your work. For Tich, establish what the poem is about first, then look for the main 2 themes and then brainstorm all the possible story angles you could take with the poem.
    Check back on the blog and see if there is anything useful you can take from it. All the best,
    Ms Kerai.