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Analyse and Evaluate the Dramatic Contribution of Lady Macbeth to the play as a whole

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Introduction

'MACBETH' BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE Analyse and Evaluate the Dramatic Contribution of Lady Macbeth to the play as a whole. Lady Macbeth's first appearance in Shakespeare's tragedy 'Macbeth' is in Act I Scene V, after she has received a letter from Macbeth. He refers to Lady Macbeth as his 'dearest partner of greatness'. This is an expression of his affection and gives the impression that they plan things together, giving clues about their relationship. Then, in Lady Macbeth's first soliloquy, she says: 'Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be What thou art promis'd. Yet I do fear they nature; It is too full o'the milk of human kindness' This is very dramatic because the first line repeats the witches' prediction, and so the audience start to link Lady Macbeth with the witches. This happens earlier in the play, when Macbeth echoes the witches' line 'So foul and fair a day I have not seen.' It makes it seem like the witches have already started to take control of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Also, the audience may find it very strange that Lady Macbeth is worried that Macbeth is 'too full o'the milk of human kindness'. This is very different to the Macbeth that the Captain describes as 'brave Macbeth'. ...read more.

Middle

These lines are very famous, even today, I think because they show just how incredibly ruthless Lady Macbeth is - considering killing a young defenceless baby. Yet is she just saying this to convince Macbeth? Would she REALLY do this? There has been a lot of speculation about the baby she is referring to. Shakespeare loosely bases the play on Scottish history, and it is noted that the real Lady Macbeth had one child in her first marriage, but none with Macbeth. However some productions, like 'Macbeth on the Estate' (1997) think that they had a baby together that died. If this is the case then why have they not had another? Lady Macbeth may be bringing up a painful memory to persuade Macbeth to kill the king. The dramatic effect of these lines does contribute to the whole play; especially when compared to Lady Macduff. We only see Lady Macduff in one scene, and we get the impression she is a typical devoted wife and mother, caring for her children, very similar to how women were in Shakespeare's time. This makes Lady Macbeth look even more monstrous, and unnatural. There is an underlying message in the play that the 'evil' king who encounters the supernatural and takes the throne by force fails in the end. ...read more.

Conclusion

King James I himself believed in witchcraft, and wrote a book about it. Also, he thought he had once had an encounter with a witch, called Agnes Sampson, who put a spell on him. Shakespeare wrote 'Macbeth' and knew it would be performed in front of the King, so he probably added the witches and the supernatural themes to frighten the audience and also interest him. Nevertheless I still think it is dramatic and unsettling to today's audiences, as although mental illnesses are more widely understood, it is quite upsetting to see someone deteriorate into madness. Personally, I think Lady Macbeth's death was suicide, and she could not bear the pain any longer, and in Shakespeare's time this would have been a fitting death for someone considered evil. It adds to the tragedy that such a determined character became so weak and died off stage, and her husband did not even mourn her: 'She should have died hereafter;' Lady Macbeth contributes hugely to the drama of the play, by her scheming actions and persuasions, her unpredictability, and her ruthless nature. I think that she is not just pure evil, but more complex, and is driven by brutal ambition. Sadly, at the beginning of the play, she thinks she knows what she wants, but it destroys her in the end. Word count: 1518 Word count inc. quotations: 1645 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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