Shakespeare and Robert Browning

Topics: Macbeth, Audience, Audience theory Pages: 6 (2057 words) Published: November 20, 2012
Shakespeare and Browning both present the theme of desire through their central characters. Lady Macbeth (and Macbeth) is motivated by the desire for ambition and authority in ‘Macbeth’ whilst in the Browning monologues; the monologists are driven by the desire of power and control in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ and revenge in ‘The laboratory’. All of which seem to have fatal conclusions as a result of each of their desires. As the texts were produced over 400years ago, audiences may have found the works of Shakespeare and Browning highly thought-provoking and entertaining whilst contemporary audiences finding the different aspects of desire relatable to modern situations. Lady Macbeth’s need for authority in her famous soliloquy ‘unsex me here’ reflects on the feelings of many women at that time longing for power. Likewise, audiences of the ‘the Laboratory’ are able to empathise with the protagonist’s desire for revenge upon their adulterous lover. In ‘Porphyria’s Lover’, Browning reveals an obsessive and controlling persona who can only satisfy his absolute love for his lover by strangling her, presenting his desire for control over others. Section 1: How do the writers introduce the central characters? LADY MACBETH

* Lady Macbeth’s introduction to the audience in Act 1, Scene 5 immediately makes it clear of her intentions. ‘Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty’. As this is a soliloquy, it invites the audience in to see her inner thoughts and feeling and her true desire for power. * Her use of imperative verbs, ‘come’ and ‘fill me’ not only notifies the audience of her desire for power, but the lengths she is willing go to achieve it. * Lady Macbeths mention of the supernatural shows how desperate she is for her desire as she craves to posses characteristics of a man by calling upon the ‘spirits’ and this possibly confirms the dark affiliation she has to the witches prophecy as she uses commanding language ‘come’ followed by supernatural references ‘spirits’ and only calls upon them. * She says ‘come to me woman’s breast and take my milk for gall’. Stating the physical differences of males and females not only shows the limitations of her desire (she is a woman), but reflects on the position of women at the time because she is pleading to have all her feminine traits removed to attain her desire. * Likewise, when she says ‘that tend on moral thoughts’ unsex me here’ she is asking the spirits to de-feminise and undo her natural order her as she wants to be emotionless and not feel guilty as she recognises that her desire goes against the moral order thus emphasising her strong feeling of desire and how far she will go. It could also be argued that the fact that women had to act in certain ways in the 16th century, for instance being completely against violence of any sorts, may have spurred on lady Macbeth to rebel and achieve her desire. * Also, the reference to ‘direst cruelty; make thick my blood’ further supports her portrayal to the audience as an evil and corrupted character. The use of the semi-colon emphasises the use of the word ‘cruelty’ which is a trait seen to be masculine not feminine * This may have been shocking yet entertaining to the Elizabethan audiences as women at that time weren’t expected to act and think in such a way. * The fact that when we meet her when Macbeth is not present (or any one else) shows her desire for power as she is telling us what she wants THE LABORATORY

* Similarly, in Robert Browning’s monologue of ‘The laboratory’ the audience are made fully aware of the narrators intentions from the beginning. ‘May gaze thro’ these faint smokes curling whitely’. The personae describes deadly arsenic fumes as something beautiful which suggests to the reader that she is somewhere where chemical reactions take place- hence the title. * The fact that we are...
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