In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Who Do You Think Is More Ambitious: Lady Macbeth or Macbeth?

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In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, who do you think is more ambitious: Lady Macbeth or Macbeth? In Shakespeare’s Macbeth (which was written in the Jacobean era), both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth show ambition. Although both display ambitious behaviour, it is argued whether Lady Macbeth or Macbeth is more ambitious. In this play the divine right of Kings is disrupted when Macbeth commits regicide and usurper, which means killing the monarch and taking another’s title unlawfully. In Shakespeare’s time monarchs were believed to be chosen by God, thereby making regicide all the more unnatural and worse, which leads into the theme of nature which runs through the play. Also, in Jacobean times the belief of witches was very strong and terrified the people of that time as black witches were cruel and cursed people and caused them harm, but Macbeth interacts with them despite this, so who is more ambitious? Macbeth or Lady Macbeth? Shakespeare opens the play with the witches which could imply an element of darkness and evil surrounding the play and characters in ‘Macbeth’. When the witches say ‘There to meet with Macbeth’ they introduce Macbeth in a way that makes us assume that anyone who meets with these witches, who we believe to be black witches with a dark agenda, must not be a very good character. However, it is possible that Macbeth is just an innocent victim, oblivious to the witches’ evil scheme making him prone to their mind control which could mean that his ambition in the play may not actually be his own ambition at all. It is possible that he has no control over his actions for most of the play. As an audience we then ask ourselves many questions, such as, why the witches wish to meet with Macbeth, how Macbeth fits in with the witches and who Macbeth is. The audience gets a negative vibe from the first scene. Macbeth is mentioned for the first time in the middle of a discussion where there is dark imagery. For example the witches are speaking of when to meet again and say ‘In thunder, lightening, or in rain?’ and ‘When the hurly-burly’s done, When the battle’s lost, and won.’ This is dark as ‘hurly-burly’ is fighting and confusion. Also, the weather is a vital part in the dark imagery as lightening, thunder and rain are usually used when something sinister or unnatural has happened, again entwining with the recurring theme in the play. Nature. When we are introduced to Lady Macbeth we are immediately suspicious of her as she is portrayed as witch-like. A reason for this is because she immediately comes to the conclusion that ‘the nearest way’ to fulfil the prophecy of Macbeth to become King is to murder the current king, Duncan. These thoughts of hers make her seem unnaturally cold and ambitious for a woman of that time. It was not unheard of, but it was rare for a woman to have ideas at that time and act upon them, so when in act 1 scene 5 she says ‘That I may pour my spirits in thine ear’ it seems to make the relationship slightly unbalanced, and due to her witch-like portrayal and the time that the play was written (when women did not have power, their social standing was not quite as high as men’s. Women were expected to obey their husbands, not to question them) for a woman to have the power in a relationship also implies that she is controlling him just as there is a question as to whether the witches are controlling him also which provides a link between Lady Macbeth and the three witches at the start of the play. The audience may begin to question whether Lady Macbeth is a witch herself, or at least involved in the witches plan. This is further etched into the audience’s mind when she calls upon spirits to make her less of a woman so that she is able to go through with the dreadful deeds, ‘Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here...’. Overall, her perception is somewhat sinister and ominous, portraying her as witch-like and unnatural for her time as it would seem she has too much influence over her...
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