Explore the ways in which Shakespeare and Robert browning present a disturbed character in literacy heritage texts. Robert browning and Shakespeare both use very strong techniques when presenting their characters in the heritage texts “Macbeth” and “the laboratory” In this essay I will be exploring the ways in which Browning and Shakespeare both portray disturbed characters. Disturbed characters meaning out of the ordinary, Browning and shakes spear present their characters without following stereotypes. This gives the audience the impression that the characters are disturbed.
The play “Macbeth” features many themes ambition, jealousy, strength but the main theme in this play would be feminism. Macbeth is a play written around the ambition of a woman named “Lady Macbeth” she and her husband contact spirits who tell her she shall be queen. Lady Macbeth acts very quickly on this fantasy, and swiftly contacts the spirits to change her into a more masculine figure. Shakes spear uses very strong language to show this transformation, he presents Lady Macbeth as a very strong, ambitious character in the first half of the play.
We can see evidence of this when he writes “take my milk for gall”. In the play lady Macbeth changes everything she believes in and breaks every stereotype in historical context about women in order to commit the murder of Duncan. This is ironic because later in the play lady Macbeth has achieved the status she wants as queen, but does not have control of herself; evidence of this is in act 5 scene 1 when Shakespeare writes “when was the last time she walked” “her eyes are open…But their sense is shut” this tells us she sleep walks and does not have control over her body physically, furthermore lady Macbeth does not have control over her mental state either evidence of this is when Shakespeare writes “look, how she rubs her hands” this suggest the doctor cannot see the blood on her hands. Further evidence of this is “there’s knocking on the gate” this tells us Lady Macbeth is hearing things in her head and is conscious of people finding out what she has done.
The poem “the laboratory” is much like Macbeth with themes of jealousy, ambition, strength, respect and the main theme of feminism. “The laboratory” is a poem written in the 1800’s about a woman names Marie who seeks revenge on her cheating husband and the other women involved “Pauline”, she plans to poison Pauline. Browning presents Marie as a very ambitious character throughout the entire poem, we know she is ambitious because Browning writes “pound at thy powder” and “to carry pure death in an earring” he uses very fragmented, violent speech for Marie, making her seem like a very strong, ambitious character.
The play was written in the 1800’s and is themed around historical context, this makes the poem ironic because women were expected to have a lot of respect for each other and work together because they all had equally no rights. This is ironic because Pauline shows no respect for Marie’s marriage in the first place, but then Marie carries this on by showing no sympathy or respect for Pauline and takes her life. Shake spear and browning both use strong language techniques to portray disturbed characters in there texts.
Both use fragmented speak and repeating key phases, there are many examples of this in Macbeth act 5 scene 1 when Shakespeare writes “come ,come, come” and “to bed, to bed”. In this scene lady Macbeth also talks in a very quick and short manner this gives the impression that her mind is very jumbled furthermore this could imply she has a lot to say but not enough time to say it all. This then portrays her as a disturbed character. In “the laboratory” browning uses repetition to portray Marie as disturbed character. Examples are “her head, her breast and her arms”. Browning also uses very dark and devilish speech in his poem.
Examples of this are “devils smithy” “empty church” “pure death in an earring” using language like this at the start of the poem gives the entire poem a devilish feel, it could also symbolise what Marie is thinking, she only thinks evil things ;this then portraying her as a disturbed character. This language makes the audience aware that the poem is full of sinister and evil things. Macbeth and the laboratory have very similar themes. They are very much the same in the terms feminism and use of context. Both women in the texts going against ordinary acts of women in that period, this making them disturbed.
Furthermore both women are also fighting for power, lady Macbeth is fighting to achieve her status as queen where as Marie is fighting for power in her marriage, this also makes them similar because they both end up in a broken relationship in the end. Both texts are set in similar settings the laboratory is set in a dark “devils” workshop and Macbeth is set in a dark room on a dark night, this giving the audience a very dark and sinister feeling about the texts. Lady Macbeth and Marie are very different in the way of the emotions and feeling.
Firstly in “Macbeth” lady Macbeth tell the audience her thoughts and feelings making her seem open and feminine even though she had asked the spirits to “unsex” herself. Whereas Marie did not show any true feminine emotions. Marie does not feel guilt and says towards the end of the poem “next moment I dance at the kings” and “brush this dust off me” this shows that she does not feel guilt and has no regrets in her doings. However half of Macbeth features lady Macbeth after she has killed and she feels deep remorse, there is evidence of this when she says “the thane of fife had a wife, where is she now?”.
As the audience we also see more implicit evidence of this when lady Macbeth says “yet here’s a spot” this presenting lady Macbeth as disturbed because she has gone insane from the guilt. I think both pieces of text were influenced very strongly through the writer’s present context; this is why both of the characters are portrayed as disturbed in the text. They are portrayed as disturbed because women were generally meant to be meek and mild, but Shakespeare’s and Browning’s presentation of their characters go completely against the contexts and the expectations of women at the time.
In conclusion I think lady Macbeth and Marie are both very disturbed characters, but I believe Marie is a more disturbed character because she does not feel guilt or remorse towards the end of the poem. “The laboratory” also features a lot more sinister text and the writing style is a lot shorter and quick making Marie seam more disturbed. More evidence to make Marie seem disturbed would be because Marie does not require help from the spirits to make her more masculine. She does it all in her own head and does not require help from anyone else is the poem, she does not show any true feminine emotions or feeling in the poem.
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