The Duke existed in Renaissance Italy, where there was a very strong belief of capitalism, therefore including upper and lower classes. Using the context, it is very clear to spot out an irregular pattern within ‘My Last Duchess’. The Duke presents this irregular pattern, by speaking in a polite manor to the lower class envoy. For a typical upper class citizen, it was very conventional to show aggression towards lower class citizens. However, the duke, an upper class citizen, does not show any signs of aggression towards the envoy. The Duke displays a clear sign of contradiction towards the context of his time, which could link to his sense of unstableness. However, there are possible reasons for why the Duke spoke to the envoy in a polite manor. One reason is because he was imagining the whole conversation, and was just trying to express his feelings.
On the other hand, Lady Macbeth had a completely different motive, for why she did not fit within her context. In Shakespearian times, women were not treated equally, when in contrast to men. Women were owned by their husbands, and were obligated to obey every command. Also, women naturally did not posses ambitions. According to the context, Lady Macbeth was also in conflict with it. This is because, she looked for power over her husband, and she manipulated Macbeth by the means of her femininity, to carry out the intentions which lead her to insanity. Furthermore, Lady Macbeth owned an enormous amount of aspiration. Shakespeare uses very specific techniques to describe Lady Macbeth. One language technique that he uses is an oxymoron. Shakespeare enforces this language technique within the character of Lady Macbeth, when she is mildly opening herself up to Macbeth.
‘Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t.’ When Lady Macbeth is first introduced, she is reading Macbeths letter. Shortly after reading the letter, Lady Macbeth suddenly commences into an evil character. From this point, the audience understands that she is one of the key features that will aid the story to progress. When Lady Macbeth opens herself up to Macbeth in act 1 scene 7, it is clear that she does not want to quell all of her emotions and thoughts, as well as the fact that she shares a particular bond of love with Macbeth. As a result, telling Macbeth about one of her main characteristics. Using an oxymoron, could help the audience understand the true personality of Lady Macbeth. Another technique that Shakespeare uses, are rhetorical questions. ‘Wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since?’ Lady Macbeth uses many rhetorical questions within the play, in order to persuade Macbeth, for the main purpose of becoming an almighty king.
This therefore, links to the insanity that creates the disturbed mentality within Lady Macbeth. However, it could be argued that Lady Macbeth ultimately loves Macbeth, for that reason, she bullies him, for the greater good. Although Lady Macbeth is persuading Macbeth, externally, the words she says are deeply derogative. ‘Was the hope drunk?’ Lady Macbeth also questions his manhood. ‘And live a coward in thine own esteem.’ ‘When you durst do it, then you were a man’. Because Macbeth is seen by most others, as a valiant and honourable man, he does not understand why Lady Macbeth thinks of him differently.
Therefore, when Macbeth’s manhood is questioned, it is noticeable that he cannot conceal his emotions, as a result, trying to prove Lady Macbeth wrong. Because Lady Macbeth uses many forms of persuasive techniques and language, it is lucid to see that she is very determined to fulfil her dreams. A final language technique that Shakespeare uses is repetition. ‘Come, come, come, come’ ‘To bed, to bed’. At this point in the play, Lady Macbeth has succumbed to her guilt; consequently, she has become psychotically insane. Lady Macbeth creates a strong spell of horror, with her final monologue. She repeats words more than once, to deepen her level of emotions. When Lady Macbeth repeats the words… ‘To bed’ she is presented as a fatigued, old woman, who has given up on her dreary life. Using repetition within Lady Macbeths monologue creates a more stressful emotion that the audience could sympathize with. There are several scenes with Lady Macbeth communicating via a soliloquy.
‘Come, you spirits that tends on mortal thoughts unsex me here, and fill me from crown to toe top-full of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood.’ When Lady Macbeth performs her soliloquy, it is possible for the audience to realise that she means her words, and she is very cunning. Stating this, I can therefore conclude that soliloquies of Lady Macbeth are used by her to show that she wants to be at the highest amount of secrecy. Personification is also used by Shakespeare. ‘Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t’ Lady Macbeth personifies the word ‘flower’ with her human looks. The serpent that Lady Macbeth talks about is described as her true personality. Even though Lady Macbeth sees the ‘serpent’ as her mental saviour, she does not realise that this ‘saviour’ leads her to death. Robert Browning also uses very specific techniques to describe the disturbed Duke.
Overall, the poem is within the hands of a dramatic monologue. This means that there is only one person speaking throughout the poem, in this case, the Duke. The fact that the poem is overly a monologue, can create a disturbing vibe. This is because; the Duke has total control over the poem, which allows him to be very possessive. Also, looking physically at the poem, it is perceptible to see that the duke could have been seeing an imaginary envoy. One reason for this statement, could be the fact that the Duke speaks in a polite manor to the envoy, when in actuality, envoys were not of the right social class to be communicated to politely. The audience can see the monologue in two different ways.
The first way, is to see it as just a monologue of the Duke, trying to express his feelings. However, the second possible way that the audience could see the monologue as is of a Duke, who possesses enough authority and power to control a whole poem, and interpret it into a dramatic monologue. Another technique that Browning uses is lists. It is very noticeable that the Duke has been deeply wounded by the activities and actions of his last duchess. This could be a reason for why the Duke became disturbed. As a result, the Duke regurgitates a lot of his sentences with many different examples of the duchess’s faults.
‘A heart—how shall I say?—too soon made glad, too easily impressed; she liked whate’er she looked on, and her looks went everywhere. Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast, the dropping of the daylight in the West, the bough of cherries some officious fool broke in the orchard for her’ this quote shows that the Duke is giving numerous amounts of examples, of how the duchess would create the feeling of jealousy within him. For the audience, using lists can help render an image of how the duchess would behave, and why the Duke became exceedingly jealous, and partly psychotic.
At the very start of the poem, the Duke looks at the duchess. ‘That’s my last duchess on the wall, looking as if she were alive.’ Browning has used a simile within the first sentence. The simile that Browning uses, suggests that the Duke is feeling partially guilty, and knew her cause of death. Therefore, it can be confirmed that the Duke was involved with the death of the duchess. Shakespeare and Browning both enforce completely different structures, to present characters.
When Lady Macbeth is performing her monologues, her lines are very long, and flow calmly like water. ‘They met me in the day of success: and I have learned by the perfectest report, they have more in them then mortal knowledge. When I burn in desire to question them further, they made themselves air, into which they vanished.’ However, when Lady Macbeth is speaking to her husband, she is very aggressive, and does not let Macbeth speak. ‘But screw your courage to the sticking-place, and we’ll not fail.’ Browning however creates a different type of structure, when the Duke is speaking. His words constantly rhyme, with rhyming couplets.
‘That piece of wonder, now: Fra Pandolf’s hands worked busily a day, and there she stands.’ Furthermore, the poem is structured in an iambic pentameter. The definition of this type of structure is when there are constant beats, such as a heartbeat, that has one lower base and one higher. This type of structure suits this poem, for the reason that there is only one man speaking, which can create an isolated feeling. In addition, Browning uses enjambment to split up his sentences, therefore, camouflaging the rhyming couplets. This creates an overloaded effect over the audience, which can discombobulate them. The themes in Macbeth are overly dark, obscure, and petrifying, because of the fact that most of the play commenced in the night. This could have been one of the many possible reasons why Lady Macbeth could not live with herself, therefore, committing suicide. However, the poem, ‘my last duchess’, can arguably contain a whole range of themes.
One possible theme that could be presented within my last duchess is luminosity and bliss. I think this because the Duke speaks with a very polite posture, to the lower class envoy, and to a majority of the audience, it could sound very sincere, yet deceiving. There are numerous amounts of double meanings that come to mind, when analysing ‘My last duchess’. For example, the Duke states, ‘I gave commands and all smiles stopped together’ This quote means that the Duke has arranged for assassins, to have the duchess murdered, therefore, all of her smiles physically would have stopped. The other meaning for this quote is that the Duke gave orders, to murder the duchess; as a result, everyone around the duchess, such as family and friends, stopped smiling. There are also many double meanings that Lady Macbeth uses. ‘These deeds must not be thought after these ways; so, it will make us mad.’ This quote, from act 2 scene 2, is actually saying that you should not think about the murdering of King Duncan so deeply, because we will become mad.
However, Lady Macbeth uses an example of euphemism, by taking out words, which could immediately accuse the couple, of murdering King Duncan. A possible reason for this is because she is paranoid, as a result, talking in a type of code, in order to communicate with Macbeth. In conclusion, I believe that the two disturbed characters, Lady Macbeth and the Duke, are very diverse to one another, for the main reason that they are both set in completely different time periods. However, Lady Macbeth rendered a less disturbing character, than the Duke, because of the fact, that she succumbed to her guilty, female side, therefore committing suicide. Whereas, the Duke did not commit suicide, but carried on living proudly, and not giving up to his inner guilt or feelings, as a result, suffering from pride.