Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Macbeth book cover
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How is desire presented and developed through Lady Macbeth in Macbeth and in The Laboratory by Robert Browning? 

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“The laboratory” and Macbeth are both examples of an ambitious woman developing a plan to achieve her desire.

In “The Laboratory” the narrator is a woman scorned.  She wants to get revenge, so she hires an apothecary to make her a poison. 

He is with her; and they know that I know
Where they are, what they do: they believe my tears flow
While they laughing, laugh at me (see first link)

The woman does not sit back and cry.  She takes action!  She takes murderous action.

Although Lady Macbeth was not scorned by her lover, she does feel that her husband was scorned by the king.  She desires that her husband be king, so she does whatever it takes to make it happen.  She develops a plan for her husband to murder King Duncan.

But screw your courage to the sticking-place,

And we'll not fail. When Duncan is asleep—

Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey(70)

Soundly invite him— (Act 1, Scene 7, p. 24)

Lady Macbeth is successful.  Her husband does become king.  It is one of those cases where you should be careful what you wish for.  She loses her mind out of guilt for what she has done.  The narrator in “The Laboratory” is quite confident she will have no such problems.

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