The poems Stealing, Hitcher, The Laboratory and My last Duchess all give us indications of disturbing behaviour from the personas in the poem. Hitcher, the laboratory and my last duchess have themes of violence and death, whereas stealing gives us an insight into the mind of a kleptomaniac. These themes, along with the language and structure give us an insight into the poets feeling and thoughts at the time, of different disturbing behaviour given off by people.
Stealing is about a person who remembers stealing a snowman, just because he knew “children would cry” it goes on to tell us of other things that they stole just because they said ” I was so bored I could eat myself “I think this poem portrays a strong sense of disturbing behaviour as the persona cares more for inanimate objects he steals, rather than the people he affects, trying only to justify his actions with the phrase “life’s tough”. He obviously cares only for fulfilling his own compulsion and nothing about others.
In contrast, the other three poems tell us of murder. Hitcher is about the cold blooded murder of a hitch hiker, which gives us an insight into the extremely disturbing and jealous mind of the speaker. He is envious of the hitch hiker’s easy life “following the sun to west from east”, even though the characters are very similar- “the same age, give or take a week”. He is completely calm and unrepentant towards the situation, backed up by his mimicking phrase of the radio “The outlook for the day was moderate to fair”, which could represent his outlook on life after the murder, which is also seen as an example of very disturbing behaviour.
The laboratory gives us a glimpse into the lab of a poison maker, where a furious and obviously deranged woman is ordering the making of a poison, to kill her husband’s lover. She is very paranoid, indicated by the repetition of “they” in the poem and she fantasises different ways the lover will die, “to carry pure death in an earring, a casket, a signet, a fan-mount, a filigree basket.” Her fantasying behaviour and the joy it gives her is indeed very disturbing and almost frightening due to the thought of how unstable she is.
My last duchess, about a duke, who is showing the servant of a potential wife’s father around his private art gallery, eager to show off his collection. There is a painting of his dead wife named “Ferrara”, but instead of looking at his wife as her person, he is merely fixated on the painter “fra pandolf” and it’s apparent he cared nothing for his wife. Later there is an indication that she flirted with other men in the phrase “she thanked men good”, and because of this he killed her. This controlling behaviour and if I can’t have her, no one can attitude, is very disturbing as the duke is obviously a murderous control-freak and one can’t help but feel sorry for his future wife.
Much of the language used by the poets helps to reiterate the disturbing behaviour portrayed in the poems. In hitcher, the recount of the murder is expressed in great detail, with distinct imagery used when describing the actual murder -“the krooklok in the face”. The driver obviously feels proud of the murder he’s committed and therefore feels the need to give great detail of the event itself. His distrubing behaviour is further reinforced when he says he “didn’t even swerve”. He is very proud of the fact and it also gives us the impression that has had the chance to murder others, thus perfecting his technique; this is also disturbing as he sees the hitcher as not a person but just a chance to further improve his method of chucking people out a moving car.
The whole poem has a very sarcastic and proud tone, with matching language, such as the phrase “he said he liked the breeze to run its fingers through his hair”, so the driver gave him this literally, by letting the breeze hit him as he was “bouncing off the kerb”. The driver sees no repercussions of his actions and doesn’t even feel the need to be guilty, which adds him more to his disturbing behaviour.
Stealing has a very proud tone to it, backed up by the first sentence in the poem- “The most unusual thing I ever stole?”It’s a question, but there is no asker in the poem, so the persona is willing the information as they are very proud of the fact that they stole a snowman. He later shows very passionate feelings towards it, by the alliteration of the letter ‘M’, when describing it. This alliteration gives us the only indication of emotion on the whole poem; he doesn’t even care for the children who were the owners of the snowman. I find this behaviour and feelings very disturbing as it’s not at all normal to feel passion towards objects.
This similar proud tone is present in my last duchess. The duke is very proud of his “nine-hundred year old name” and killed his wife because she ruined his reputation by flirting with other men. The duke is also very controlling. The use of “my” in the title shows that he believes he owns the woman, just as he owns a painting of her. He is a very dominant character. “Notice Neptune, though, taming a seahorse”, can draw parallels with his relationships’ with women. He believes himself godly with control over beautiful yet vulnerable creatures, which I very disturbing as he sees women as only objects; another thing to add to his collection. He cares nothing for the fact her dominated them and later murdered his wife.
The laboratory uses very bitter language, so that the persona can show their bitter feelings towards their husband and his lover. The repletion of the ‘p’ sound in stanza one gives a very bitter and twisted tone, thus indicating her evilness. Also, throughout the poem, there is regular alliteration that gives it a lively mood, almost copying the woman’s unstable thoughts. This adds to her disturbing behaviour as we know her mind is all over the place.
Finally structure is used to show the disturbing thoughts of the characters. In the laboratory, irregular line length and enjambment are used, to show her mind and thoughts are all over the place. Yet the stanzas 5 and 10 are more concise, showing her thoughts are more focused at this point and I think this is particularly disturbing as it is the points when she thinking of exact details of the murder showing she has clearly thought it out. My last duchess is written with a peculiar mix of rhyme and half rhyme, to perhaps show that there was love in the duke and duchess’s relationship, but this was tainted by the dukes controlling nature. His behaviour is disturbing as he couldn’t even love without his need for control to step in. In hitcher, the line length is all over the place, mirroring his thoughts and unstable nature, yet the punctuation shows us he can compose himself. I find this disturbing as he is obviously unstable, yet does a great job of hiding it. Finally, the structure f stealing adds incredibly to the disturbing nature of the poem. The line lengths are relatively equal and the whole thing is well punctuated. The persona id clear with their thought and this shows that they know full well what they are doing.
To conclude, through the poem the use of themes, language and structure are able to effectively portray the disturbing nature of the main characters n the poems.