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Examine the character of Lady Macbeth as she appears so far in the play (up to act 3 scene 3)

By houx Oct 10, 2013 825 Words
The play I am studying is Macbeth by William Shakespeare. The character, Lady Macbeth, immediately makes an impact on us when we first encounter her in act 1 scene 5, as an ambitious, manipulative and dominant individual. When she initially reads the letter from Macbeth, she announces that he would be too kind-hearted and compassionate to take the necessary steps to obtain the throne, “It is too fill o’ th’ milk of human kindness”. She realises what is required of her if she is to convince Macbeth to kill Duncan, and how she will have to rid herself of any empathy for the king. Lady Macbeth proves herself to be malicious enough in the immediate moments after the assassination. But in the aftermath, faults are shown in her seemingly perfect plan, as her relationship with Macbeth disintegrates, and she is in result alone and dejected. Macbeth no longer involved her in the plotting of Banquo and Fleance’s murder, “What’s to be done?”, as he no longer sees her help as necessary. Ambition and ruthlessness are some of the key personas of Lady Macbeth. It has always been her main objective to get her hands on the crown, and throughout the play so far, she had demonstrated the efforts she is prepared to make in order to achieve her goals. She went so far as to request the evil spirits to rid of all her compassion and decency, “fill me from the crown to the toe top full, Of direst cruelty!” Her unwillingness to wait, indicates her burning desire to become Queen of Scotland. Lady Macbeths determination to become Queen is such, that she would kill her own child, sacrifice all her feminine qualities and sell her soul. She never had any hesitation about murdering Duncan, and she saw it as the only logical way forward. So when Macbeth revealed his qualms about the assassination, she quickly disregarded him and the valid points he brought up about the repercussions of the murder. From this we can tell her longing for the throne makes her blind and foolish to what could potentially cause anything from her husband’s murder, to an afterlife in hell. Lady Macbeth demonstrates her skills in manipulation, and uses this talent to control her husband. From the very beginning she is wholeheartedly in favour of the murder of Duncan, so when Macbeth reveals his reluctance towards it, she immediately begins to taunt him and insinuates that he would not be a man if he did not carry through with the murder, “When you durst do it, then you were a man; And to be more than what you were, you would, Be so much more the man.” She ensures his alliance by him tempting with the future she believes will come true, which is their eternal greatness and power, just as long as Duncan is killed. It is evident from the early stages of the play, that Lady Macbeth is the dominant figure in the Macbeth’s relationship. We see this specifically when Macbeth clearly wants to discontinue the plot to kill Duncan, but Lady Macbeth manipulates him in to agreeing in to the murder of the king. Upon hearing the news that Macbeth wants to no longer go ahead with the murder, she declares she would rather kill her own child then cease the plans to kill Duncan, “And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you, Have done to this.” Her easy authority over Macbeth makes her immediately assume the lead role in Duncan’s murder, and organises the entire bloody affair. Lady Macbeth does not get the result she expected from killing Duncan, instead she is left alone and dejected from her husband. She naively believed that once Duncan was dead their lives would be perfect. Lady Macbeth proves herself to be as callous and uncompassionate as she desired the evil spirits to make her, before the murder, “Come, you spirits, That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here”. But this cold heartedness soon fades in the aftermath of the assassination, when she realises how truly unsuccessful the ploy had been, and is forced to live with the regret of murdering a good man and a good king, with no real profit in return. Instead she just lost her security, happiness, peace of mind and innocence. In summary, I found that so far in the play Macbeth, Lady Macbeth goes under a huge transformation from being, ruthless and cold-hearted in such an extreme way she requested the evil spirits to rid her of any compassion, and threatened to kill her own child. To isolated from Macbeth and miserable with her new life as Queen of Scotland. But unfortunately it takes a murder to create this sort of conversion in her. I have very much enjoyed exploring the character of Lady Macbeth, as I find her extremely intriguing and I believe I have learnt a lot from this process.

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