Diction and attitude
Shakespeare’s words in Macbeth clearly show that Lady Macbeth feels Macbeth is too kind, so if he cannot be merciless, he won’t be able to become king. In this passage, Lady Macbeth is providing a monologue berating Macbeth for his lack of ruthlessness. She fears Macbeth lacks the brutality to kill King Duncan, so that Macbeth can fulfill the witches’ prophecy and become king. Firstly, Lady Macbeth asserts that Macbeth is too compassionate. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth that he is “too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness” (Shakespeare 1.5.17). In common day language, she is saying Macbeth is too full of the milk of human kindness, or in other words, Macbeth is too kind. Lady Macbeth also clearly states that Macbeth is just not ruthless enough to murder the king, even if he wants the top position. She complains that Macbeth “Art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it” (1.5.19-20). Here, the modern translation would be saying that Macbeth is not without ambition but without the ruthlessness that should go with it. Lady Macbeth says plainly that Macbeth isn’t ruthless enough. That Macbeth needs this ruthlessness is further supported when Lady Macbeth says, “chastise with the valor of my tongue all that impedes thee from the golden round” (1.5.30-31). Lady Macbeth wants to rid Macbeth of all that might stop him from getting the crown and becoming king. As this is said after her lecture about Macbeth’s lack of ruthlessness, it is clear that the “all that impedes” is his lack of hardheartedness. Therefore, from Shakespeare’s diction, we can infer that Lady Macbeth fears Macbeth’s lack of ruthlessness will stop the pair of them rising higher in social ranking.
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