‘Macbeth’ is a tragedy written by Elizabethan and Jacobean playwright William Shakespeare. It is a play written in honour of the King of Denmark for visiting Scottish-born King James I of England. One of the main characters of the play is Lady Macbeth. At first she is presented as a strong character but certain events gradually change her into a weak person and eventually drive her to her death. Particular scenes in which Shakespeare gives this effect are Act 1 Scene 5 and Act 5 Scene 1.
In Act 1 Scene 5, Lady Macbeth is presented as a strong woman with rather lofty ambitions. A way in which Shakespeare portrays this is through her views of other characters - in particular, her husband Macbeth. Macbeth is seen as being 'too full o' the milk of human kindness' from Lady Macbeth's point of view. Although he is a brave soldier, she believes that he is good and innocent, as symbolized by the noun 'milk'. Lady Macbeth also orders Macbeth to 'look like the innocent flower/but be the serpent under’t’. The use of imperatives such as 'look' and 'be' also show her determination and the noun 'serpent' gives the audience a sense of Lady Macbeth's cunning and calculating mind.
Shakespeare also relates Lady Macbeth to witchcraft and consequently this is linked to evil. She invokes the spirits by repeatedly using the imperative Come therefore commanding them to ‘stop up th’ access and passage to remorse’ and go to her ‘women's breasts and take my milk for gall’. This shows that she does not want to feel guilt or remorse and she wants to lose her feminine innocence by losing the milk and replacing it with a bitter substance produced from the gall bladder. The idea that this poison in her breasts would kill any baby which she has suggests that Lady Macbeth may previously had a child before but it died early. This could justify her actions as a twisted form of