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Compare and Contrast the Role of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, both Prior to the Murder of Duncan.

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Compare and Contrast the Role of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, both Prior to the Murder of Duncan. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are basically good people who make an ill judgement. It is unfair for Malcolm to describe them as "this dead butcher and his fiend - like queen". In the beginning they are respected people who share a loving relationship. Their downfall is caused by their ambition for Macbeth to be great, sparked by the witches' prophecy, and not because they are evil. Macbeth's indecision on whether or not to kill Duncan, and Lady Macbeth begging to spirits to take away her feminine qualities, show that ruthlessness does not come easily to them. Lady Macbeth is a loyal wife with ambitions for her husband. She believes that Macbeth deserves to be King, but thinks that he is too nice to do anything about it. She does not think that he could kill Duncan on his own. She is supportive of Macbeth, and is willing to do what she can to help him get what he wants. She is basically a caring and loving person, though, so she pleads with the Spirits to take away her tenderness and femininity and make her ruthless: "Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me, from the crown to the toe, top full of direst cruelty." ...read more.


He must make the decision, based on his tragic flaw, on his own. After murdering Duncan, Macbeth is agitated and frightened. He forgets to place the daggers near Duncan's guards as he planned to, and is too afraid to go near the place of murder to correct the mistake: "I'll go no more. I am afraid to think what I have done; Look on't again I dare not." Macbeth wishes to wash his hands of Duncan's blood, and thus the deed, but believes that no amount of water could remove all the blood: "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No," He regrets killing Duncan, wishing that he would wake from his sleep of death: "Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!" Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, is calm and logical immediately after the murder. She does not appear to be at all worried about being caught, believing that, by cleaning their hands of blood, they are cleaning their hands of the deed: "A little water clears us of this deed." The wine she has drunk has made her brave, and she fixes Macbeth's mistake by placing the bloodied daggers near the guards so that they are blamed for the murder. ...read more.


She has begun sleepwalking, and is obviously tormented by the murders that she has had part in. Earlier, she thought that a little water was all that was needed to wash her hands of Duncan's blood, but, while sleepwalking, she thinks that her hands are covered in blood that cannot be removed: " Yet here's a spot...Out, damned spot! Out, I say! What, will these hands ne'er be clean? Here's the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." By her behaviour, we see that Lady Macbeth is paying the penalty for the mistakes she helped to make. She was just trying to be a good wife by helping her husband receives what she believed he deserved. Her suffering is such that it leads to suicide, which shows that Lady Macbeth is not at all fiend-like. If she were, then the murders would have had no effect on her. It is clear by their behaviour that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are not evil. Lady Macbeth's obvious suffering and regret, shown by her sleepwalking and suicide, and Macbeth's fighting to his death, like the fearless soldier in the first Act, prove that Malcolm's describing them as "this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen" is unfair and inaccurate. English Coursework Miss Wood ...read more.

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