"Come, you spirits/ That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here
" (Act I, scene V, lines 44-45)
In Macbeth, William Shakespeare writes this passage in order to shape the character of Lady Macbeth. Using only this line, the reader can almost determine Lady Macbeth's personality and her motives.
Up to the point where this quote leaves off, we have not heard much of Lady Macbeth. When she receives the letter from Macbeth, it seems her fascination is not directed at her husband, but at her husband's newly attained power. It is evident that the first impression of Lady Macbeth is negative. Without wasting any time, she begins to plan Duncan's death and assumes responsibility of the situation.
In the first line Lady Macbeth says, "Come, you spirits." Already we have a dark image of her conjuring up evil spirits. She does not seem a bit intimidated by the spirits she is calling. Her tone of voice suggests she is almost commanding the spirits to help her carry out her plan. William Shakespeare intentionally attached this phrase in the beginning of the sentence, so that the reader sees Lady Macbeth as more of an evil character, which in her own way conjures evil spirits.
In the first part of the second line Lady Macbeth says, "That tend on mortal thought." Literally, it means that she wants the evil spirits that wait on thoughts of murder or death to come to her. This phrase foreshadows the many deaths that await us by the end of the novel. By mentioning the spirits of death, Shakespeare prepares the readers for what is coming up next. By now, we are able to recognize Lady Macbeth's nature. Her thoughts are bombarded with dark images and her mind is set on the murder of the King.
Finally, in the last and most significant part of the sentence Lady Macbeth says, "unsex me here." In context, she wants the spirits to come and take away her soft, feminine characteristics. She feels that her husband is too nice to get the greatness he is...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document