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Describe and illustrate the ways in which the character of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are revealed from the time that Lady Macbeth receives her husband's letter in Act I, up to the murder of Duncan, paying attention to the differences between them.

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Introduction

Describe and illustrate the ways in which the character of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are revealed from the time that Lady Macbeth receives her husband's letter in Act I, up to the murder of Duncan, paying attention to the differences between them. Critics have often referred to the character of Macbeth in the play Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, as a "tragic hero" and "...a man who is, except for his ambition, noble in nature." This noble nature is brought out in his moral sense of duties and loyalty to the king. The audience/reader learns of his "brave" and "valiant" position as a soldier, particularly valuable on the battlefield from the beginning, and his nobility enables him to resist his murderous thoughts and leave what will be to fate. On the other hand, Lady Macbeth scorns this aspect of her husband's nature for she sees his "human kindness" as a weakness (which makes him less manly) and even fears this characteristic of his, because she is concerned that he will not be "man" enough to perform the deed of killing a good, kind and respected King. Therefore, with this section of the play, what constitutes a "man" and "woman" differs from Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. Also, the reader must take into consideration that the Elizabethans believed that to kill a king, especially a greatly praised one, was the most evil crime that could ever be committed, for the king was said to be God's representative on Earth, hence this "horrid deed" would be seen as a crime against general "good" and heaven. ...read more.

Middle

This certain susceptibility is particularly noticeable, when he is hallucinating of the "fatal vision" of the dagger, which portrays how much the supernatural occupies his mind. He had already begun the path of destruction and self destruction, when he uttered the word "murder", and it is upon this meeting with witchcraft that this idea entered his mind. Macbeth allows the witches to influence his thoughts and actions, and this demonstrates his moral weakness. Therefore, Macbeth is rather superstitious regarding his attitude towards the prophesies (which reflects the purpose of the play, because King James I was extremely interested in the subject) and can be easily wavered by the witches, as opposed to Lady Macbeth's uncompromising will, and, unlike her husband, the idea of murder remains fixed in her mind. She is not necessarily influenced by anything once it is there, she is determined to make it happen rather than leave it to fate. In fact, it can be argued that once Lady Macbeth has read the letter from Macbeth, and hence the idea of murder, the evil in her subconscious has been brought forth. She perceives the witches in a rather lighter hearted manner than her husband for she believes in giving fate and "metaphysical aid" a helping hand in order "to have thee crown'd withal". Perhaps it could be considered that the animal imagery, which Shakespeare often uses in Lady Macbeth's speech, such as the "raven" and the "serpent" shows how Lady Macbeth would ...read more.

Conclusion

This can be seen in how after Duncan's murder, Macbeth uses more flowery language, whereas Lady Macbeth's language is a lot more straight forward and practical, which fits in with theme of the sexes and how Shakespeare stresses that their roles have changed. Macbeth: Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, chief nourisher in life's feast. Lady Macbeth: You do unbend your noble strength, to think so brainsickly of things. The main difference between their speech in this section of the play (Act 2, Scene 2) is how Shakespeare makes Macbeth's language have more imagery, personification and metaphors, contrasting to Lady Macbeth's, which is practical and straightforward, reflecting her lack of guilt. The play Macbeth is not only unique to other Shakespeare's works, but also in the Elizabethan period. What characterizes the play's uniqueness is how the supposed villain is also the protagonist of the play as well. The two main characters, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are actually the antagonist, but also the centre. Therefore, Macbeth is a play that harbours sympathy for evilness unlike any other, in a way, almost justifying it. This is also very effective of the part of Shakespeare, because it makes the plot more complex, interesting and mind-boggling than any other traditional play or story where it is the main characters representing "good" and fighting the "evil". In this theatrical piece, it is the main characters that are the ones fighting and coping with the inner evil within themselves. Daniela Germano Year 13- English Lit 14/02/04 ...read more.

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