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‘as Soon as the Macbeths Become Accomplices in Regicide, Their Relationship Irretrievably Falls Apart.’ Discuss to What Extend Do You Agree That the Physical Horror of King Duncan’s Death Kills the Macbeth’s Marriage.

By georgemere Aug 06, 2012 591 Words
In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, King Duncan’s death caused a great turmoil in the minds of the Macbeths and left no space for love, hence, their relationship began to crumble, as they reacted to the murder in different ways: Lady Macbeth, entering insanity, and Macbeth, thirsting for more power. Nevertheless, even at the end, Macbeth’s love for his wife, however strained, did not completely perish.

Lady Macbeth is a ruthless, ambitious wife and it is questionable that her love for Macbeth was truly real since the beginning of their marriage. Instead, she lusted over his status and wealth. Immediately when she received the letter from Macbeth, she began to plot the death of King Duncan, and steeled herself from her morals, asking that she is ‘unsexed’ so that she may have a mind of a man who is strong enough to handle the thoughts of murder, as she made known through her famous ‘Unsex me’ speech:

‘Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here and fill me from the crown to the toe topfull of direst cruelty…’ (p.15)

As opposed to Macbeth, she was easily drawn to the possibility of power and had not a moment of indecision to do anything necessary to obtain the throne and to involve her husband in it. This gives a hint that Lady Macbeth may not have married Macbeth only for love.

‘O full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!’ (p.47)

This quote shows the agitation in Macbeth’s after King Duncan is killed and their plan succeeds. He is overcome with guilt and remorse, and is unable to relax or enjoy without the constant fear that people may discover his deed:

‘…now I am cabin’d, cribb’d, confin’d, bound in to saucy doubts and fears.’(p.51)

As the events continue, Macbeth’s corruption increases and changes from guilt, causing him to disregard all and become consumed with maintaining the throne and killing those who he suspected knew of the truth and who had the potential to steal it from him. His mind was now focused on his title and had no space for love or his wife:

‘Time, though anticipat’st my dread exploits; The flighty purpose never is o’ertook, Unless the deed go with it. From this moment, The very firstlings of my heart shall be the firstlings of my hand. And even now, To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done.’(p.68)

Contrary to Macbeth, Lady Macbeth begins to feel the effects of aiding the killing of King Duncan later, and without the support she gave to Macbeth, her mental stability degraded and she slowly entered a state of madness. Her insanity provoked the plain display of the degradation of the Macbeth’s marriage. Particularly when Macbeth did not appear to have even visited her or cared about her health, as implied by this statement:

‘How does your patient, doctor?’ (p.89)

However, when Lady Macbeth’s death was made known to him, his single sentence on her death indicated that although he still cared for her, his love was now somewhat muted:

‘She should have died hererafter; There would have been a time for such a word.’(p.92)

The relationship between the Macbeths was not completely destroyed by the murder of King Duncan. However, through the worry, guilt, corruption and fear that consumed their minds, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth did not have space to love each other for one another, whether one-sided or not. In the end, their relationship became strained, although not entirely fractured.

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