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At The End Of The Play, Malcolm Refers To Lady Macbeth As "Fiend-Like". How Far Do You Think This Is An Appropriate Description Of Her?

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Introduction

At The End Of The Play, Malcolm Refers To Lady Macbeth As "Fiend-Like". How Far Do You Think This Is An Appropriate Description Of Her? When Malcolm refers to Lady Macbeth as "fiend-like", it evokes an assortment of reactions from the audience. A fiend would be devilish before, during and after committing murders. Before the murders, Lady Macbeth is strong, sure of herself and her husband's position, and certainly displays some fiend-like tendencies. While the murders are taking place, she is not so calm. She is more human - tense and nervous - certainly not devilish. After the murders, she is incapable of dealing with her guilt, ending with her death. An important factor to be considered throughout this study is varying meanings. The word "fiend", like many other words in the English language, has altered slightly in its meaning since Shakespeare's day. In today's dictionary1, the word fiend is described as "an evil spirit; an inhumanly wicked person." Similarly, but slightly different, in Shakespeare's day, a fiend was a devil or a devil's agent. A devil is, in Christian and Jewish theology, the supreme spirit of evil, who inhabits the earth to take souls to hell. ...read more.

Middle

She admits that she is nervous and has drunk alcohol to calm those nerves: "That which hath made them drunk, hath made me bold". She is nervous and jumpy, and confesses "I am afraid", which she certainly could not be if she was a fiend. She is beginning to show a more human side to her conscience. She also concedes that she is unable to kill Duncan herself, saying that if he had not "resembled My father...I had done't". If her fiend-like exterior ran deeper than the surface, his appearance would not have made a difference. In the presence of her husband, however, she is strong, encouraging and comforting. She shows no compassion when she says "a little water clears us of this deed", and orders him to "consider it not so deeply". During the murders she shows a more human interior, but when her husband needs her, for example when he needs to get rid of the daggers and set up the guards, she again becomes fiendish and shows an inclination towards evil. During the murder of Duncan, we catch a glimpse of Lady Macbeth's true character, seeing her more human side. ...read more.

Conclusion

Therefore, she may appear fiend-like, even though her character is not of a fiend, but of ambition. In fact, we cannot really expect the phrase "fiend-like" to be a fair comment, considering Malcolm is looking to ascertain his kingdom in place of his father's murderers. In addition, the staging of the Macbeths as wicked could be flattery of James I because of his succession from Banquo, so it is more than possible that Lady Macbeth was meant to be fiend-like in order to compliment James. There is sufficient evidence at the beginning of the play to call Lady Macbeth "fiend-like", but it is presumptuous of her character as a whole: Lady Macbeth is strong for her husband when he needs her to be, especially after Duncan's murder, and her ambition is portrayed as fiend-like tendencies. A fiend would be devilish before, during and after committing murders. In reality, she is unable to cope with the guilt, resulting ultimately in her death. It seems most of Lady Macbeth's actions are founded on weakness, not evil, as it is unfeasible for fiends to have consciences. Therefore, we can conclude that when Malcolm calls Lady Macbeth a "fiend-like queen", it is a less than just comment on her character. 1 Geddes and Grosset English Dictionary was used here. ...read more.

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