Explore how the narrator in ‘The Laborarory’, ‘Porhyria’s lover’ and Lady Macbeth and ‘Macbeth’ express their desire for power and control? Both Shakespeare and Browning are renowned writers from the world of English literature. The audience were forced to explore the choices made by the characters in both Macbeth and a selection of Browning’s poems to find out the different strategies they use to express their power and control. In Act one scene five, Lady Macbeth’s powerful character, having control over her husband is clearly expressed through her decisive language.
‘Thou must do, if thou have it.’ Lady Macbeth uses a forceful tone to convey her view on Macbeth murdering Duncan in order for him to achieve his ultimate goal of taking Duncan’s place. It’s clear on the control and power Lady Macbeth establishes on her husband and is a great contrast to how in the Elizabethan times women were worthless and didn’t have any say.
Here, Lady Macbeth has reversed her gender role from being a kind loving hostess into a more affirmative, strong minded commander. This will be a rebellious character in the eyes of the society. Moreover Lady Macbeth begins to sharpen her plans but isn’t too sure as she thinks her feminity would become a weakness. She proclaims towards supernatural substances (spirits), which were seemed to be believed in the Victorian era. ‘Unsex me here’. This was a vivid way asking spirits to strip her of feminity weakness. She imagines herself as a vessel which h maybe emitted out and refilled with evilness. Also by risking her chance of having a baby for power shows her urgency toward power and control. This is odd as in the Elizabethan times it was the women’s duty to have children and look after them. Lady Macbeth wanted to get rid of her feminity for power which is quite odd and different to others like the speaker in the Laboratory, where feminity is threatened. Moreover when she says ‘and take my milk for gall’, its suggesting that she no longer wants to be a female. ‘Gall’ comes from an excess of yellow bile. An imbalance of yellow bile can make one ruthless and insolent. If Lady Macbeth is internally poisoned, it would gain her control over the King.
Moreover, Lady Macbeth is portrayed as a very strong character, compared to Shakespeare’s other female protagonists where they are timid and weak. She uses this strength to fulfil her dream of Macbeth becoming the future monarch. This is further demonstrated through the use of alliteration of the letter ‘T’ at the beginning of each sentence in Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy presenting the fact that Lady Macbeth is organised in a sense that she has planned every detail precisely. Similarly ‘In The Laboratory’, the female speaker uses language which comes across as forceful. ‘Grind away, moisten and mash up thy paste.’ Here we are seeing a female person giving out demands to a professional poison maker. This behaviour can be seen as unconventional, meaning that in the Victorian era women were not supposed to be demanding or forceful towards other individuals especially men. This decision the speaker had made is showing the audience that the speaker is strong-minded yet not too insane over her decisions.
The speaker in ‘The Laboratory’ is being enthusiastic and decisive about creating an evil plan which in the audiences mind will come across as intriguing. Normally women of the Victorian era would most likely to be enthusiastic about hosting a dinner party and not preparing to kill a human. Both Lady Macbeth and the speaker in the laboratory wanted to kill but Lady Macbeth doesn’t actually want to fulfil the deed herself. Moreover the speaker in The Laboratory is very unsympathetic towards her victims, as she is very eager to get revenge. ‘the exquisite blue’. This indicates that she wants the potion to be strong so it should be a bright blue so that the revenge will be successful whereas if it is a grim colour then the potion won’t be strong and will look weak and old when it should be powerful. Her keenness for this to be successful is further demonstrated through the use of rhyme scheme, AABB, quickening the pace of the poem. It also indicates that she is almost cursing the mistress and most of the lines are similar in length showing that she knows exactly what she is doing to acquire power.
Also within the poem there are twelve stanzas with the rhyme scheme. This also reinforces the fact of the poem being quickened. Iambic pentameter is also being used due to her passion within her planning for the disgrace. ‘Brand, burn up, bite into its grace.’ This is an example of alliteration in the ‘B’ sound which is very harsh. This language shows her desire to inflict pain on her victims, cause their sufferings and disturb their beauty. On the other hand Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy is written in a logical order showing that she wants to get rid of her feminity slowly and slowly. The speaker in the laboratory similar to Lady Macbeth makes significant references to her religion. ‘empty church, to pray God in, for them! – I am here.’ This gives us an impression that for the speaker, it is more essential to create a potion to kill rather than pray to God in a holy Church.
This phrase can indicate that the speaker has chosen to take a negative route within her life therefore disobeying her religion. ‘for them’. This illustrates that she is referring to both her lover and his mistress; as if she is doing them a favour by praying to God. Her decision to make poison in the laboratory shows her as immoral and rebellious. From this it’s clear that the speaker gives no value to the views of her society as she is seen very disrespectful towards her society’s views on being religious. Similarly Lady Macbeth is shown to be making numerous references to religion which have great influences on her decision makings. “And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell” This emphasises on how she wants to hide her evil deeds from heaven and from herself. The actions and words portrayed through both these characters show great personality of the two women. These two dominant females are seen opposing their religion, reversing their roles in the society as well as becoming involved in sinful behaviour to gain either pleasure or status. However Lady Macbeth wanted to kill for her own gain to receive royalty, whereas the speaker in the Lab wanted to kill for revenge.
Moreover the laboratory has been written in the style of a dramatic monologue. This form can reveal a lot about the speakers inner thoughts and can create a strong relationship with the audience as well. ‘and Pauline should have just thirty minutes to live.’ This portrays the power and control the speaker has over Pauline’s life and also emphasises on the fact that she now has the choice of killing whoever she likes. As she is the only speaker the audience can only look through her viewpoint. This perhaps can make the audience feel quite uneasy to trust a person who is making a potion as there are no other characters involved within the evil plot. On the contrary, Macbeth, is seen to have less courage and power while standing up against Lady Macbeth, who according to that society should be lower in hierarchy than Macbeth in terms of power and control. Macbeth wants peace of mind and wants the process to end once and for all ‘the be all and the end all.’ Macbeth speaks of an action not a personal thing; he wonders if the action will be all that is required and end all of all that he must go through to be the king. Macbeth would like his deed to be limited. As Macbeth is about to kill Duncan he says ‘it is the bloody business which informs.
Thus to mine eyes’. This illustrates that Lady Macbeth has been able to gain full control of her timid husband as he is been forced to kill. His words show that he is afraid to kill the highly respected king who is believed to be selected by God. Macbeth’s use of alliteration in Act 2 Scene 1 ‘bloody business’ presents the fact that Macbeth knows of this kind of business and hates it but yet is forced in to it. This is very ironic that Macbeth is scared to kill as he has just fought a war which involves mass killing. During Macbeth’s time killing a king was a great sin against God as kings were appointed by God. Also during that era men controlled the women whereas in Macbeth’s situation his wife controlled him. However on the other hand, in Porphyria’s lover the speaker sets positivity about his lover. This can show him as a higher classed person and he has gained a female follower. This makes himself immortal and feels like he is playing the role of God. Thus going on to killing Porphyria and witnessing ‘God’s silence’. Unlike Macbeth, Porphyria’s lover felt no guilt after he slaughtered his lover as he felt ’no pain felt she’.
He may even believe that she enjoyed the pain because he, her lover inflicted it. This implies that he’s an unsympathetic speaker. The language of the speaker in Porphyria’s lover shows how the narrator is ignorant to God ‘And yet God has not spoken.’ This implies the speaker is acting humorous in saying God didn’t speak and thinks it is acceptable to murder a female. ‘has not’ portrays the speakers choice of murder. He is seen as criticising his own faith of not directing him in the correct pathway of not committing evil. In the Victorian era men showed more sexuality towards women and most of the people believed in god. ‘and yet god hasn’t said a word’ this shows although they believed in faith they still sinned. ‘no pain felt she; im quiet sure she felt no pain’ the speaker comforts himself that porphyria felt no pain when he killed her. This may not be true. He does not feel sympathy for the fact that he killed her and in this statement he is justifying his actions. Lady Macbeth and porphyria aren’t similar to the average women in their times -they urge for power; porphyria’s lover is being controlled by porphyria. ‘she put my arm around her waist’ this implies porphyria is commanding and gives her lover no choice about what he wants to do. Similarly Macbeth is in control by a female, and this female being his wife, Lady Macbeth. ‘thou Marshall’st’ me the way that I was going.’
Lady Macbeth and porphyria are both in control. Porphyria’s lover has a simple structure; ABABB. This structure shows the madness in the eyes of porphyria’s lover. It is laid out in one long stanza as Browning wants to preserve the moment. The structure of Macbeth and Porphyria’s lover are different. Porphyria’s lover’s structure was in one long stanza because he wanted to stop time, whereas Macbeth wanted to commit the scene as soon as possible.
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Lady Macbeth. (2016, Mar 17). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/lady-macbeth-essay