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Disturbed Female Characters In Shakespeare, Browning And Duffy´S Works

2321 words - 10 pages

Shakespeare, Browning and Duffy all create four very similar characters female characters which are considered to be disturbed. This is due to the fact that they all went against the expectations of society in their respected eras. The speaker in ‘The Laboratory’ as well as Havisham and Medusa in Duffy’s monologues are all considered to be “disturbed” because of their common motives: jealousy and revenge. Despite these similarities, Lady Macbeth’s main motive is her hunger for power. This subverted expectations of females as they were supposed to be loyal to their male partners and shouldn’t want to take their power. In this essay I will talk about their desire for power and revenge, and why this has lead them to be portrayed in such a disturbed manner and how this goes against people’s expectations.
Firstly, the four women subvert expectations of femininity by not submitting to male authority. In the play, Lady Macbeth questions things instead of accepting it. “Yet do I fear thy nature; it is too full o’ the milk of human kindness,” this is Lady Macbeth accusing her own husband of being too kind instead of being the fearless warrior he is supposed to be. It is almost as if she is accusing him of being too feminine. This subverts Jacobean expectations of femininity because she is questioning him, as if she has some kind of power or authority to do so. She gets this imaginary power from the fact that she is married to Macbeth – the thane of Cawdor. Furthermore she uses this authority because she wishes to be able to experience real power; the power only a man could have. This is something women would not have done in the Jacobean era. In this era women would have stayed at home and looked after the house rather than attempting to gain power. This is due to the fact they were completely dependent on men, as they held the most authority in society. She is also acting rather masculine in this scene because she is stating that he is not masculine enough to do what is necessary in order to become king. She is speaking like she is a judge and has decided he is not man enough for her. “Hie thee hither. That I may pour my spirits in thine ear; and chastise with the valour of my tongue,” this is an attempt to make Macbeth more like her. She is the man here.
Havisham, Medusa and the speaker in ‘The Laboratory’ are all have a desire for revenge. The speaker wants to carry out revenge by killing the woman which has replaced her. “Quick—is it finished? The colour’s too grim! Why not soft like the phial’s, enticing and dim?” Here the speaker is mentioning poison as she plans to use it to kill her target. Also the mention of poison reminds us of the extents she would go to, how eager she is to carry out her revenge. However the fact that she is instructing the alchemist how to refine it, how to make it perfect, subverts the Victorian expectation of women being nothing other than innocent, vulnerable people and the ‘angel of the house’. This is because...

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