In this essay I am going to be comparing two pre-twentieth poems both about murders and their victims. The first is a poem called ‘The Ballad of Charlotte Dymond’ by Charles Causley. This is a true story of a teenage girl murdered by her lover after he found out she had been having an affair. The second of the two poems is entitled ‘The Laboratory’ by Robert Browning. This is of a similar nature to the ‘Charlotte Dymond’ poem but a lot more hatred is felt in this one.
Both the poems are old as in ‘The Charlotte Dymond’ poem it mentions of the girl carrying shillings, which says it is not a recent poem, but more to the point, a public hanging takes place, or so it implies, which strongly suggests it is an old poem. In ‘The Laboratory’ there is a more obvious clue to suggest it was old. Throughout the entire poem it uses words that no longer hold a place in the English language now days.
An example of some words used in the poem like this are, ‘signet’, which is a type of ring, ‘pliest’, which means to apply and ‘Thus’ which means here.
In both poems the reason for the murder to take place is all connected to love. In the ‘Charlotte Dymond’ poem the love felt for Charlotte by Matthew is so immense he is heartbroken to hear of her affair, confused and upset he believes he is doing her a favour and getting rid of her sin by ending her life.
Matthew realises what he has done and clutching Charlottes green gauze handkerchief shows he misses her and still really loves her now she is pure again of any wrong doing. In Charlottes case I don’t know if she loves Matthew the way he loves her.
She has had an affair yet maybe didn’t want to break his heart by telling him she was in love with someone else. I think that Charlotte holds the power in this poem. My reasons for believing this is because although she may have been dead, she is still the one that controlled what Matthew felt and she was still the one Matthew adored and worshiped. In a weird way Matthew loved her and worshiped her so much that that was because he did it. The writer does something very clever in the poem to do with who holds the power. He makes it seem like Matthew himself has no power himself in the poem.
This may come across very strange as he is the murder but really the power he holds in the attack, is all in the razor. The writer gives the razor a life of its own, giving the impression that Matthew is not doing anything wrong; it is the razor doing the crime. He does this in the line ‘Where all around the razor, had written its red name’. In ‘The Laboratory’ the murderer has no feelings of love towards her victims. I say victims because not only is the victim the one about to be murdered but also the king, as she wants to see him upset and suffering by watching his loved one die.
I think in this poem the murder is all down to her wanting the power by being with the king. If she is the kings wife she sees herself as been rich and wealthy with a lot of respect and power. Also the feelings of hatred felt by the murderer may have been provoked by the lack of respect shown to her by the king and his lover. They think she is crying in a church and praying for them, so instead thinks she will prove them wrong by doing something else, something they won’t be expecting. The power in this poem is mainly in the murderer as she is the one with the weapon, and unlike in the other poem does not feel one bit sorry for her victim.
The murders in these poems are very different in their method. In ‘The Charlotte Dymond’ poem, Matthew slits her throat with a razor and then crushes her chest with a rock. I would imagine that this sort of a murder would have been very quick but while in lasted, very painful indeed. The action of crushing her chest gives me the impression that Matthew was trying to crush her heart, cause he felt she had crushed his. This sort of a murder was put across by the poet as a violent and bloody murder. He creates this image by using the words flood and blood together. It is like you can see her drowning in her own puddle of blood.