The Rise and Fall of Lady Macbeth

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The Rise and Fall of Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth's character is one of complexity; slowly, but continuously changing throughout the play. What begins as a struggle for power and a longing to shred her femininity turns Lady Macbeth into what she fears most - a guilt ridden weakling.

In the beginning ( I, v, 43-54) , we see Lady Macbeth reacting to the news of her husbands success and King Duncan's visit. This ignites her lust for power. In the quote "...unsex me here, / And fill me from the crown to the toe top full/ Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;.../ Come thick night,/ And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,/ That my keen knife see not the wound it makes," Lady Macbeth talks of wanting all of the cold blooded aspects of " manliness" so she can kill King Duncan with no remorse - she sees herself as having these qualities more than her husband, and because of this, in a sense, wishes to shed her womanhood. We can see this ruthless nature more in depth in the quote "I 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" (I,vii,56-59) She is obviously a very bitter female, frequently referring to her role as a woman, both physically and emotionally in negative ways. In the above quote, Lady Macbeth is commenting on her husband's lack of gall, stating, that quite frankly, she would make a better man than he.

Although still a very strong woman, we see the first signs of weakness in Lady's Macbeth's character in Act II, Scene ii, 12-13. She says, "Had he not resembled/ My father as he slept, I had done it." She is giving an excuse for not killing Duncan herself. As you can plainly see, this is not the same Lady Macbeth that would bash a baby's brains in in the beginning of the play. Throughout the play, Macbeth's character grows stronger as Lady Macbeth's will regresses. It even gets to where Macbeth will not...
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