Macbeth: Act 1 Scenes 5 & &, Relationships of Macbeth & Lady Macbeth

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In Act 1, Scene 5, Lady Macbeth receives a letter from Macbeth, telling her of the witches' prediction that he will be king. Lady Macbeth's first reaction is to say "shalt be what thou art promis'd". She then says "yet do I fear thy nature; it is too full o' the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way". By this she means that she fears that he is too kind to do what he needs to do to become king, by killing Duncan. Her use of the word milk is interesting as it is a very feminine word, often associated with nurturing. As the play was written in Elizabethan times we know that their gender roles would have been very traditional. Lady Macbeth is, in effect, saying that Macbeth is too full of feminine goodness. When Macbeth enters the scene we can see how he views their relationship as an equal one, this is something that would have been very unusual at the time, but she sees herself as the more dominant one in their relationship. At the beginning of Act 1 Scene 7, we see a soliloquy from Macbeth, expressing his doubts about killing Duncan. When Lady Macbeth enters the scene he attempts to assert his power over her, perhaps for the first time, by saying "We will proceed no further in this business". Lady Macbeth is not happy about this and tries to persuade him otherwise. She starts by insulting his masculinity "When you durst do it, then you were a man", but when she sees that this does not work she uses a more drastic approach. She tells him how she has breastfed (and by this we know that she has had a child) and has loved the baby. She then says that she "would, while it was smiling in my face, have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums and dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this." This is a very horrific image but Macbeth's response to this is "if we should fail?" and it is a clear turning point in the scene.
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