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Assessment Criteria Explore the ways that writers present strong feelings to interest the reader or audience. AO1 - respond to texts critically and imaginatively; select and evaluate relevant textual detail to illustrate and support interpretations AO2 - explain how language, structure and form contribute to writers’ presentation of ideas, themes and settings AO3 – make comparisons and explain links between texts, evaluating writers’ different ways of expressing meaning and achieving effects AO4 - relate texts to their social, cultural and historical contexts; explain how texts have been influential and significant to self and other readers in different contexts and at different times
Essay Structure INTRODUCTION • HISTORICAL SETTING • medieval/Jacobean • Ancien Regime/ Victorian • LANGUAGE • imperative verbs • violent language • apostrophe • alliteration • repetition • etc. SuperSEED 1 SuperSEED 2 • STRUCTURE • iambic pentameter • lines through acts • dactylic beat • rhyme • stanzas • punctuation • enjambment • FORM • play: dramatic devices (soliloquy) • poem: dramatic monologue SuperSEED 3 SuperSEED 4 CONCLUSION
Introductory statement about ‘way’ the two characters are presented. What is a SuperSEED? Statement about Lady Macbeth’s strong feelings One of the ways that Lady Macbeth and the speaker reveal strong feelings is through the language they use. Evidence Although Lady Macbeth is seemingly a dutiful wife, she nonetheless is depicted as having ______ feelings. Explanation Development focusing on ‘way’ This is This shows that evident when she says… CONNECTIVE Shakespeare emphasises this she… Equally, further through her use of… Statement about the speaker’s strong feelings while the speaker is ______, she nonetheless displays ____________. Evidence This becomes apparent when she says… This reveals… Browning specifically uses… in order to… Explanation Ultimately, the language is key in revealing the strong feelings of both characters, from Lady Macbeth’s… to the speakers… Development focusing on ‘way’ Summarising statement referring back to the essay question.
Lady Macbeth’s key speeches Act 1, Scene 5 LADY MACBETH Was the hope drunkWherein you dress'd yourself? hath it slept since?And wakes it now, to look so green and paleAt what it did so freely? From this timeSuch I account thy love. Art thou afeardTo be the same in thine own act and valourAs thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have thatWhich thou esteem'st the ornament of life,And live a coward in thine own esteem,Letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would,'Like the poor cat i' the adage? MACBETH Prithee, peace:I dare do all that may become a man;Who dares do more is none. LADY MACBETH What beast was't, then,That made you break this enterprise to me?When you durst do it, then you were a man;And, to be more than what you were, you wouldBe so much more the man. Nor time nor placeDid then adhere, and yet you would make both:They have made themselves, and that their fitness nowDoes unmake you. I have given suck, and knowHow tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:I would, while it was smiling in my face,Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as youHave done to this. Act 1, Scene 5 Great Glamis! worthy Cawdor!Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter!Thy letters have transported me beyondThis ignorant present, and I feel nowThe future in the instant. MACBETH My dearest love,Duncan comes here to-night. LADY MACBETH And when goes hence? MACBETH To-morrow, as he purposes. LADY MACBETH O, neverShall sun that morrow see!Your face, my thane, is as a book where menMay read strange matters. To beguile the time,Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye,Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower,But be the serpent under't. He that's comingMust be provided for: and you shall putThis night's great business into my dispatch;Which shall to all our nights and days to comeGive solely sovereign sway and masterdom. MACBETH We will speak further. LADY MACBETH Only look up clear;To alter favour ever is to fear:Leave all the rest to me. Act 1, Scene 5 Glamisthou art, and Cawdor; and shalt beWhat thou art promised: yet do I fear thy nature;It is too full o' the milk of human kindnessTo catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great;Art not without ambition, but withoutThe illness should attend it: what thou wouldst highly,That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,And yet wouldst wrongly win: thou'ldst have, great Glamis,That which cries 'Thus thou must do, if thou have it;And that which rather thou dost fear to doThan wishest should be undone.' Hie thee hither,That I may pour my spirits in thine ear;And chastise with the valour of my tongueAll that impedes thee from the golden round,Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seemTo have thee crown'd withal. Act 1, Scene 5 The raven himself is hoarseThat croaks the fatal entrance of DuncanUnder my battlements. Come, you spiritsThat tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,And fill me from the crown to the toe top-fullOf direst cruelty! make thick my blood;Stop up the access and passage to remorse,That no compunctious visitings of natureShake my fell purpose, nor keep peace betweenThe effect and it! Come to my woman's breasts,And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,Wherever in your sightless substancesYou wait on nature's mischief! Come, thick night,And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,To cry 'Hold, hold!' Act 1, Scene 7 MACBETH If we should fail? LADY MACBETH We fail!But screw your courage to the sticking-place,And we'll not fail.
They must lie there: go carry them; and smearThe sleepy grooms with blood. MACBETH I'll go no more:I am afraid to think what I have done;Look on't again I dare not. LADY MACBETH Infirm of purpose!Give me the daggers: the sleeping and the deadAre but as pictures: 'tis the eye of childhoodThat fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal;For it must seem their guilt. Exit. Knocking within MACBETH Whence is that knocking?How is't with me, when every noise appals me?What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this bloodClean from my hand? No, this my hand will ratherThe multitudinous seas in incarnadine,Making the green one red. Re-enter LADY MACBETH LADY MACBETH My hands are of your colour; but I shameTo wear a heart so white. Knocking within I hear a knockingAt the south entry: retire we to our chamber;A little water clears us of this deed:How easy is it, then! Your constancyHath left you unattended. Knocking within Hark! more knocking.Get on your nightgown, lest occasion call us,And show us to be watchers. Be not lostSo poorly in your thoughts. MACBETH To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself. Knocking within Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst! Exeunt Act 2, Scene 2 LADY MACBETH That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold;What hath quench'd them hath given me fire.Hark! Peace!It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman,Which gives the stern'st good-night. He is about it:The doors are open; and the surfeited groomsDo mock their charge with snores: I have drugg'dtheir possets,That death and nature do contend about them,Whether they live or die. MACBETH [Within] Who's there? what, ho! LADY MACBETH Alack, I am afraid they have awaked,And 'tis not done. The attempt and not the deedConfounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers ready;He could not miss 'em. Had he not resembledMy father as he slept, I had done't. Enter MACBETH My husband! MACBETH I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise? LADY MACBETH I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.Did not you speak? MACBETH When? LADY MACBETH Now. MACBETH As I descended? LADY MACBETH Ay. MACBETH Hark!Who lies i' the second chamber? LADY MACBETH Donalbain. MACBETH This is a sorry sight. Looking on his hands LADY MACBETH A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight. MACBETH There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cried'Murder!'That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them:But they did say their prayers, and address'd themAgain to sleep. LADY MACBETH There are two lodged together. MACBETH One cried 'God bless us!' and 'Amen' the other;As they had seen me with these hangman's hands.Listening their fear, I could not say 'Amen,'When they did say 'God bless us!' LADY MACBETH Consider it not so deeply. MACBETH But wherefore could not I pronounce 'Amen'?I had most need of blessing, and 'Amen'Stuck in my throat. LADY MACBETH These deeds must not be thoughtAfter these ways; so, it will make us mad. MACBETH Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!Macbeth does murder sleep', the innocent sleep,Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care,The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,Chief nourisher in life's feast,-- LADY MACBETH What do you mean? MACBETH Still it cried 'Sleep no more!' to all the house:'Glamis hath murder'd sleep, and therefore CawdorShall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more.’ LADY MACBETH Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,You do unbend your noble strength, to thinkSo brainsickly of things. Go get some water,And wash this filthy witness from your hand.Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
Act 5, scene 1 ADY MACBETH Out, damned spot! out, I say!--One: two: why,then, 'tis time to do't.--Hell is murky!--Fie, mylord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need wefear who knows it, when none can call our power toaccount?--Yet who would have thought the old manto have had so much blood in him… The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now?--What, will these hands ne'er be clean?--No more o'that, my lord, no more o' that: you mar all withthis starting… Go to, go to; you have known what you should not… Here's the smell of the blood still: all theperfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this littlehand. Oh, oh, oh!... Wash your hands, put on your nightgown; look not sopale.--I tell you yet again, Banquo's buried; hecannot come out on'sgrave… To bed, to bed! there's knocking at the gate:come, come, come, come, give me your hand. What'sdone cannot be undone.--To bed, to bed, to bed! Exit Act 3, scene 2 LADY MACBETH Nought's had, all's spent,Where our desire is got without content:'Tis safer to be that which we destroyThan by destruction dwell in doubtful joy. Enter MACBETH How now, my lord! why do you keep alone,Of sorriest fancies your companions making,Using those thoughts which should indeed have diedWith them they think on? Things without all remedyShould be without regard: what's done is done. Act 3, scene 4 LADY MACBETH O proper stuff!This is the very painting of your fear:This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said,Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws and starts,Impostors to true fear, would well becomeA woman's story at a winter's fire,Authorized by her grandam. Shame itself!Why do you make such faces? When all's done,You look but on a stool. MACBETH Prithee, see there! behold! look! lo!how say you?Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too.If charnel-houses and our graves must sendThose that we bury back, our monumentsShall be the maws of kites. GHOST OF BANQUO vanishes Act 3, scene 2 LADY MACBETH You must leave this. MACBETH O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!Thou know'st that Banquo, and his Fleance, lives. LADY MACBETH But in them nature's copy's not eterne. MACBETH There's comfort yet; they are assailable;Then be thou jocund: ere the bat hath flownHis cloister'd flight, ere to black Hecate's summonsThe shard-borne beetle with his drowsy humsHath rung night's yawning peal, there shall be doneA deed of dreadful note. LADY MACBETH What's to be done? MACBETH Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, What feelings are revealed through these extracts?
The Laboratory Ancien Regime I Now that I, tying thy glass mask tightly, May gaze thro’ these faint smoke curling whitely, As thou pliest thy trade in this devil’s-smithy – Which is the poison to poison her, prithee? II He is with her, and they know that I know Where they are, what they do: they believe my tears flow While they laugh, laugh at me, at me fled to the drear Empty church, to pray God in, for them! – I am here! III 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. IV 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? V 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! VI 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! What feelings does the speaker reveal? VII 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! VIII 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. IX 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! X 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! XI 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? XII 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!
Explore the ways that the writers present strong feelings to interest the reader or audience in ‘Macbeth’ and ‘My Last Duchess’. ‘Macbeth’ and ‘My Last Duchess’ are texts that have stood the test of the time. The impact of Shakespeare upon our literary heritage is evident by his precedence above all other playwrights in the school curriculum. ‘Macbeth’ has been performed all over the world for hundreds of years. Equally, Browning’s poetry has endured in popularity since the 19th Century; ‘My Last Duchess’ being one of his most well known poems. Despite being written almost 250 years apart, both ‘Macbeth’ and ‘My Last Duchess’ share many common themes in their examinations of crazed, tyrannical men - Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play and the Duke in ‘My Last Duchess’. In both texts, the audience and reader are privy to the private thoughts and feelings of these men and the two writers use several different ways to engage the reader with these feelings. In this essay I will be examining the methods they use to reveal the often disturbed but compelling emotions of Macbeth and the Duke. There is no doubt that the historical setting of both texts has been carefully chosen in order to present strong feelings of the characters. Although Shakespeare chooses to portray the act of regicide in the eleventh century, the treasonous feelings of Macbeth would have been very relevant to a Jacobean audience. His disloyalty to King Duncan, revealed in the line, “False face must hide what the false heart doth know” demonstrates his determination to hide his murderous thoughts and act the loyal servant to the King in order that he will not be suspected. This would have been shocking enough to the contemporary audience who lived in a society built on the belief of the divine right of Kings. However, written and performed as it was during the reign of King James I who had just escaped a threat on his life through the Gunpowder Plot, the presentation of a king’s assassination would have been chillingly close to the bone. The historical setting allows Shakespeare to present some distance between the events on stage and the audience, in order that the dramatic impact of regicide can be fully explored. In a similar way, Browning’s decision to set his poem in the Italian Renaissance allows him to reveal the disturbed feelings of the Duke in order to make an impact. One of the Duke’s most disturbed statements is, “She had/ A heart – how shall I say? – too soon made glad.” Here, the Duke is condemning his deceased wife for the fact that too many things made her happy, hardly a sufficient justification for murder. Writing in the Victorian period, Browning would have been well aware of how shocking the Duke’s behaviour would be to the prudish Victorians, however the Duke’s suspicious mind is akin to many living in the 1850’s, who were determined to see sin lurking in every corner. Thus the temporal setting allows Browning to explore sex, violence, and. aesthetics in a way that resonated with the time in which he was living. In this way, both writers have chosen a distant historical setting since not to do so would have made the subject and tone of their works too shocking and unpalatable for a contemporary audience. This allows them to explore highly charged emotions more fully. Another method that the writers’ employ is through their careful choice of form: the play of Macbeth and the poem of ‘My Last Duchess.’ While Shakespeare utilises many dramatic methods throughout Macbeth, the most effective one in revealing the conflicted feelings of Macbeth is that of the soliloquy. When Macbeth says, “If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well/ It were done quickly,” he is clearly shown to be reasoning out the argument for and against killing the King. The soliloquy allows the audience to hear the inner thoughts of the character, drawing us inside his mind. This is particularly important in Macbeth as the soliloquies, unhampered as they are by the character’s need to present a “false face” to other characters on stage, reveal the progressive deterioration of Macbeth’s mental state and highlight his change from loyal soldier to crazed tyrant. In a similar way, Browning wanted his readers to have access to the Duke’s thoughts and feelings and so chooses as his form, a dramatic monologue. Only the Duke’s voice is present throughout the poem as he reminisces about his last wife, the late duchess, and in doing so reveals his arrogant feelings about her behaviour: “As if she ranked/ My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name/ With anybody’s gift.” This reveals that he believes that she should have valued the social elevation of her marriage over the simple pleasures in life. In only having access to the Duke’s musings, Browning forces his readers to become involved in the story themselves. In order to understand it, we must take on the role of the emissary he is talking to and piece together the events leading up to the last duchess’s demise. It is the fact that the Duke is speaking to ‘someone’ in the poem that makes the dramatic monologue differ from that of a soliloquy. Whereas in Macbeth, Macbeth is not aware of the audience as listeners and is talking to himself, the Duke in Browning’s poem is conscious of his audience and while at points, his rhetorical rationalising is more to himself than the emissary, the feelings that he reveals are nonetheless shaped by the relationship between the speaker and listener. A crucial way that both Shakespeare and Browning are able to reveal the strong feelings of Macbeth and the Duke is through the language they use. The tipping point for Macbeth to cross from sane to insane is during the, “Is this a dagger”, speech. This is demonstrated through the continual use of apostrophe throughout the soliloquy: “Come, let me clutch thee./ I have thee not, and yet I
see thee still.” In making Macbeth address the dagger directly as if it was a person, Shakespeare is clearly signifying the disturbed state of Macbeth’s mind. He emphasises this further through the repeated use of rhetorical questions throughout the speech, “Is this a dagger which I see before me,/ The handle toward my hand?” “Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible/To feeling as to sight?” This highlights the uncertainty of Macbeth and his desperate need for reassurance as he encounters the grim vision before him, demonstrating once more the instability of his emotions. Browning too employs rhetorical questions in the Duke’s dramatic monologue, which reveal his maniacal feelings. This is demonstrated when he asks, “Who’d stoop to blame/ This sort of trifling?” Here, the Duke illustrates that he believes he would be lowering himself to judge his wife for her supposed indiscriminate behaviour. However, the fact that he asks the question hints at his hypocrisy as he later evidently does “stoop to blame” the duchess. Browning employs chillingly unemotional language to tell the reader of the duchess’s fate, “ I gave commands;/ Then all smiles stopped together.” The simplicity of the statement reveals the Duke’s uncompromising attitude towards his wife and his assertive control over her fate. It is therefore through language, that Shakespeare and Browning are able to communicate the undoubted insanity of their protagonists. Lastly, the structure of the two pieces is highly effective as a way of revealing the strong feelings of the characters. While Macbeth’s mental strain is apparent, Shakespeare emphasises his moments of lucidity through his use of iambic pentameter. In the “Is this a dagger” speech, Macbeth moves from an irregular pattern as he questions whether the dagger is real to a regular one as he rejects the vision: “There's no such thing:/ It is the bloody business which informs/ Thus to mine eyes.” In returning to iambic pentameter, Shakespeare signals that Macbeth has calmed down from his erratic state of mind and is in control of his actions. It is significant therefore, that his final rhyming couplet before he goes to commit murder also is constructed within the same strict rhythm: “Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell/ That summons thee to heaven or to hell.” The structure of the Duke’s monologue is similarly significant in emphasising his controlling feelings. Browning uses a strict rhyme and meter to organise the poem into couplets: “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.” This shows that the Duke is a man who appreciates control, and therefore takes pains to control his own statements. However, Browning also uses continual enjambment throughout the poem which makes the poem pull against the rhyme scheme: “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.” This statement is one sentence and contains two couplets, but the sense of the lines continually spills past the rhyming words. The Duke can shape his speech into couplets, but his thoughts strain against that structure and try to break it. This gives a sense of struggle in his lines and shows that the formal structure of the piece can scarcely contain his crazed feelings. In both instances, a tight, formal poetic structure is used to signify an ordered mind. When the writers go against this, they highlight the disturbed feelings of their speaker. Ultimately, the two texts offer a detailed examination of the disturbed minds of Macbeth and the Duke and the writers engage the audience and reader through the disruption of temporal setting, deliberate use of form, carefully employed language and the juxtaposition of rigid and erratic structural techniques. It is significant that despite being written centuries ago and set in a time even more distant, the universal themes of crazed ambition and jealousy still resonate with modern audiences and readers. While society no longer upholds the divine right of kings or entertains Victorian primness, we share the same shock and revulsion at Macbeth’s treachery and are equally repelled by the Duke’s psychopathic feelings. Audiences will no doubt continue to be enthralled for centuries to come. • Read through the essay and look to see: • How the methods are introduced • How the two texts are linked • How strong feelings are examined • How developments are made • How the SuperSEED has been used to meet the assessment criteria
Macbeth was written in 1605/6 (Jacobean period) but was set in the 11th Century (Medieval period). The Laboratory was written in 1844 (Victorian period) but set in France in the late C17th (Ancien Regime). HISTORICAL SETTING The Tudor reign (Elizabeth I was a Tudor) came after a deeply unstable and bloody time of English history – The Wars of the Roses. For 30 years (1455-1485), England was embroiled in a continual civil war with numerous Kings being deposed/killed/murdered in favour of a different King. It was the Tudor succession that put an end to the bloodbath and made the English crown a stable one. Because of what preceded the Tudor reign, the notion of regicide was more shocking than ever before as nobody wanted to return to the days where the monarchy was constantly in question. • Madame de Brinvilliersplotted with her lover, an army captain called Godin de Sainte-Croix, to poison her father in 1666 and two of her brothers in 1670, in order to inherit their estates. There were also rumours that she had poisoned poor people during her visits to hospitals. On 17 July 1676, she was tortured with the water cure (forced to drink sixteen pints of water). She was then beheaded and her body was burned at the stake. Her trial and the attendant scandal launched the Affair of the Poisons, which saw several French aristocrats charged with poison and witchcraft. • The medieval account of Macbeth’s reign (Holinshed Chronicles) is altogether different from the original historical account – Duncan is described as an ineffective and young ruler and crucially, Banquo conspires with Macbeth to murder Duncan. Shakespeare changed the historical events in order to flatter King James I who was descended from Banquo. • The ‘King’ that the poem refers to is Louis XIV – the ‘Sun King’ of France. Louis was an incredibly powerful monarch who ruled over France with a lavish immorality. He took a number of mistresses both officially and unofficially and produced numerous illegitimate offspring. The rest of the court followed likewise and adulterous love affairs were common place. Women could achieve incredible power through their looks by becoming a mistress to an important man. Beauty was everything. James I’s reign is still remembered to this day due to the ‘Gunpowder Plot’ that saw a bunch of catholic conspirators (including Guy Fawkes) attempt to blow up the houses of parliament with the King inside. The whole of the nation was deeply shocked at the attempted plot and the gang members paid the ultimate price by being hung, drawn and quartered as a lesson to all who thought of killing a King. • During the Victorian Age, the ideal woman would be demure, pious and submissive. When a women was married, all of her inheritance (if any existed) would belong to her husband. Her husband had rights to everything a woman had, including her body. A wife's proper role was to love, honour and obey her husband, as her marriage vows stated. STRONG FEELINGS STRONG FEELINGS TREASONOUS – By setting the play in the 11th century, it allows Shakespeare to explore the issue of regicide without offending the new King UNNATURAL – Victorian women weren’t meant to behave in such a way. Browning uses the historical setting to shock and appal his prim audience. Although ‘Macbeth’ was written after James I came to the throne, the influence of Elizabeth I’s reign on Shakespeare cannot be underestimated. Elizabeth I famously had to renounce her femininity in order to maintain her power. She never married, never had children and remained famously ‘the Virgin Queen’ right up until her death. One of her most notorious speeches referenced her determination to be more than a woman: “I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king.” • Browning was writing after the ‘Romantic Age’ of poetry which popularised highly sentimental poetry that praised the beauty of the world and aesthetics in general. However, the hypocrisy of the Victorian age was that while on the surface it appeared morally righteous and looked ‘chocolate box’ pretty – it actually was an age of great suffering and poverty. Browning looked to shock his readers with tales of violence and sex in order to herald a new age in art. UNNATURAL/ANTI-FEMININE – Lady Macbeth has much in common with Elizabeth I’s rejection of typical female behaviour. The historical setting again provides ‘distance’. SEXUAL – The Victorian age was famous for (on the surface as least) being prudish and conservative. There couldn’t be a stronger contrast with the Ancien Regime age.
Macbeth is written in form of a play and involves dramatic devices to make it dramatically effective. The Laboratory is a poem but Browning chooses to write it in the form of a dramatic monologue. FORM • The main dramatic device used to present ‘strong feelings’ is the use of soliloquies. A soliloquy is a speech delivered by a character in a play or other literature while alone, disregardful of or oblivious to any hearers present. It means that the audience are privy to the inner feelings of a character and know what they’re thinking. Lady Macbeth’s soliloquies often are in complete contrast to her behaviourwhen she’s in the company of other characters. Crucially, it allows the audience to witness her determination that Duncan should die before she even talks to Macbeth and her vulnerability when she comments that she couldn’t kill the King herself because he looked too much like her father. • Browning was famous for his dramatic monologue poems (he called them ‘dramatic lyrics’), most famously in ‘My Last Duchess’ and ‘Porphyia’s Lover’. It was a deliberate choice of form that allowed him to establish a direct relationship between the speaker and the reader. The reader is forced to become the listener and is therefore actively involved in the monologue. Browning has constructed ‘The Laboratory’ in order that the monologue is delivered on a number of levels: • The speaker speaking to the apothecary • The speaker speaking to the reader (in role) • The speaker speaking to ‘second self’ • This means that at points the speaker is rhetorically rationalising her actions to herself through the guise of speaking to someone else. The effect of this is that Browning forces the reader to infer from within the poem – clues regarding the speaker’s state of mind are only observable if we imagine ourselves within the dramatic situation. It’s also important to note that the poet’s voice is absent – he offers no commentary on the speaker’s actions. What am I thinking about? Only I and the audience know thanks to my soliloquies! I’m speaking to you, the reader and myself all at the same time. • Other dramatic devices you can possibly consider in your development: • dramatic irony • off-stage action • entrances and exits
THE LABORATORY LADY MACBETH LANGUAGE Hyperbole Flirtatious language Imperative verbs Imperative verbs alliteration alliteration Violent language Violent language repetition repetition Sinister language apostrophe Admiring language personification • Find an example of each of these language devices in the poem and establish what STRONG FEELINGS it reveals. • How is it effective in doing this? • Find an example of each of these language devices in the poem and establish what STRONG FEELINGS it reveals. • How is it effective in doing this?
THE LABORATORY LADY MACBETH STRUCTURE Browning employs several structural features to make the poem more effective During the play, Lady Macbeth goes from speaking blank verse to prose RHYME The regular rhyming pattern throughout gives the poem a sing-song quality making the speaker appear almost childlike in her enjoyment of examining the poisons. It helps the poem to flow and drives the monologue right to the end of the poem. BLANK VERSE Generally speaking, Lady Macbeth speaks this when she is in control of her actions. However she doesn’t stick to the consistent pattern of iambic pentameter – on certain lines she uses more or less than ten syllables and this allows Shakespeare to signify her erratic emotions. PROSE At the end of the play, when Lady Macbeth has lost her mind as a result of her guilty conscience, she no longer speaks in blank verse but switches to prose instead. Her lines are not tightly structured which reflects the fact that her mind is no longer organised and clear. RHYTHM The poem has a strong dactylic beat throughout (dactyl = 1 strong stress followed by 2 weak stresses). It creates a lively rhythm which gives the poem energy and pace. This in turn, makes the speaker seem excited by her actions as her delivery of her monologue becomes animated. STANZAS Browning constructs the poem in 12 even stanzas, a tight organisational structure which contributes to the sense of the speaker plotting to get revenge. The consistent structure helps also to display her determined nature, she doesn’t stray from her plan to kill her rival. • WHAT IS IAMBIC PENTAMETER?An "iamb" is an unaccented syllable followed by an accented one. "Penta" means "five," and "meter" refers to a regular rhythmic pattern. So "iambic pentameter" is a kind of rhythmic pattern that consist of five iambs per line. • It's the most common rhythm in English poetry and sounds like five heartbeats: ba-DUM, ba-DUM, ba-DUM, ba-DUM, ba-DUM. • For instance where Lady Macbeth urges her husband to wash his hands after he has murdered King Duncan: and WASH this FILthyWITnessFROM your HAND. • Every second syllable is accented (stressed) so this is classic iambic pentameter. Since the lines have no regular rhyme scheme we call it "Unrhymed Iambic Pentameter," a.k.a. "Blank Verse." PUNCTUATION There is a deliberate use of punctuation throughout the poem. In particular the use of exclamation marks help to convey the excitement of the speaker. OTHER STRUCTURAL FEATURE Another structural device you can perhaps comment on in your development is the structure of Lady Macbeth’s role in the play. Shakespeare deliberately constructs her role that it starts out strong and significant but diminishes in importance as her sanity diminishes. By the end of the play, she is so insignificant that her death becomes merely off-stage action. ENJAMBMENT The use of enjambment works against the tight structure of the poem. Despite organising her thoughts into consistent stanzas, the speaker’s wild thoughts won’t stay constrained within the lines of the verse but struggle against them, showing her crazed and erratic mind.