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Compare Act 2 Scene 2 (the murder of King Duncan) with Act 5 Scene 1 (the sleepwalking scene), paying particular attention to the way in which the character of Lady Macbeth is dramatically presented.

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Introduction

Compare Act 2 Scene 2 (the murder of King Duncan) with Act 5 Scene 1 (the sleepwalking scene), paying particular attention to the way in which the character of Lady Macbeth is dramatically presented. Act 2 Scene 2 primarily concerns itself with Macbeth's killing of King Duncan, and with Lady Macbeth framing King Duncan's guards to make it look as though it was they who committed the heinous crime of killing the ruler of the country. Comparisons with this scene can be made with Act 5 Scene 1, in which Lady Macbeth is seen to be sleepwalking, and in doing so giving away secrets about the murders of King Duncan and of the Macduff family. In both scenes, Lady Macbeth displays varying mental sates, which are demonstrated through her actions in the scenes. In the beginning of Act 2 Scene 2, Lady Macbeth is alone on stage. Whilst talking in a soliloquy, she reveals to the audience that she had deliberately made the king's guards drunk, 'That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold:' Lady Macbeth clearly is not as ruthless and cold as she appears to be on the outside, as she needs to intoxicate herself before building up enough courage to go through with their plan. Lady Macbeth also shows signs of cowardice, when she gets Macbeth to kill King Duncan, using the excuse that King Duncan looks like her father. ...read more.

Middle

The gentlewoman in Act 5 Scene 1 mentions one of Lady Macbeth's orders, '...she has light by her continually, 'tis her command.' Lady Macbeth must always have a candle next to her at night as she fears the dark. This contrasts to when earlier on in the play when Lady Macbeth called upon the blackest smoke of hell to hide her actions. Light is a symbol of truth, goodness, and openness in the world. In Act 5 Scene 1 Lady Macbeth is attempting to let light in upon herself, so as to be cleansed, but her deed has been done and she has already decided her fate. In Act 2 Scene 2, upon returning from the murder Macbeth asks his wife, 'Didst thou not hear a noise?' Lady Macbeth responded by saying, 'I heard the owls scream and the crickets cry.' In Jacobean times, the screech of an owl represented an evil happening, as did the sound of crickets at night. Therefore, Lady Macbeth, without realising, told her husband that she had heard the sounds of evil whilst he was murdering King Duncan. In Act 2 Scene 2 when Macbeth looks at his blood-soaked hands, he says, 'This is a sorry sight.' Macbeth feels remorse for what he has done, and this compares with earlier on in the play, when King Duncan refers to Macbeth as a 'bloody man'. This is dramatic irony as it is in fact King Duncan who will end up being the bloody man. ...read more.

Conclusion

Because of the murder which Lady Macbeth helped to commit, she will never be able to rid herself of the evil which is now firmly engrained inside her, and now amount of repentance will be able to save her soul. Lady Macbeth had been linked with the witches before, when she called upon them to fill her body with darkness. In Act 2 Scene 2 Macbeth says, 'Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!' Here Macbeth is showing regret for what he has done, which contrasts with Lady Macbeth's inability to go to sleep in Act 5 Scene 1. It highlights the reversal of roles. At first Lady Macbeth's initial dominance functions to sting the hesitant Macbeth into action. She immediately decides to take control of the ambitions of her husband. S she well knows, Macbeth's moral scruples seem to paralyse him, and she provides the necessary driving force. Having been so central to the first murder plot, Lady Macbeth becomes increasingly secluded from the proceedings. In arranging the murder of Banquo himself, he isolates himself from her. He alone must confront the ghost of his guilt. All the while whilst Macbeth is becoming stronger and more murderous, the guilty feelings which Lady Macbeth hid in favour for her more masculine role have bubbled out to the surface. She is now, in sleep reliving the past, whilst Macbeth has moved on. Lady Macbeth's psychological deterioration provides a background upon which Macbeth's descent into evil can be more graphically illustrated to the audience. ...read more.

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