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Discuss Shakespeare's Characterisation of Lady Macbeth. How does he use her role to create drama?

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Discuss Shakespeare's Characterisation of Lady Macbeth. How does he use her role to create drama? In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is portrayed as a complex character and is used to fluctuate drama levels according to her choices and her unpredictable way of thinking. As the play progresses, Shakespeare employs Lady Macbeth's character to keep the audience constantly engaged by provoking strong emotional responses to her actions through shocking language and dramatic tension. Macbeth was written by Shakespeare during 1606 to 1611. At this time, James I was on the throne. James I was highly superstitious, and in 1604 introduced a law that any person practicing witchcraft would be executed. The play was most likely to have been performed in front of the King. This may be the reason why Shakespeare has used witchcraft, because it would have been able to induce optimum fear and drama into the play for this specific audience, thus validating the king's anxieties. The Christian religion of the time considered that the monarch was chosen by God. This was known as 'the Divine Right of Kings'. Due to this ideology, the death of King Duncan in the play would have been going against God's will. ...read more.


Lady Macbeth says, "your face, my thane, is a book", and the audience is reminded of when Duncan made reference to not being able to judge a person by their face. When Lady Macbeth encourages Macbeth to be deceitful; "look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under't", the audience feel sympathetic towards Duncan, as he knows he cannot judge characters. This theme of deception is backed up by death imagery such as "the raven himself is hoarse" which creates a feeling of unease for the audience. Unification of imagery echoes around the play, constantly reminding the audience of these themes. In Act One Scene Seven, Lady Macbeth convinces Macbeth to murder Duncan. She uses language that would have shocked audiences from the Jacobean period, and also still trigger strong reactions today. "I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, and dashed the brains out," This outburst of unfeminine imagery would cause distress to the audience, furthering their feeling of discomfort. The language is unnecessarily detailed and gruesome, showing the extremities that Lady Macbeth is willing to go to to satisfy her ambition. ...read more.


The last time the audience hear of Lady Macbeth, apart from in the final scene, is when Macbeth learns of her death. Shakespeare may have chosen to kill Lady Macbeth because she is no longer needed. Structurally, Shakespeare has used Lady Macbeth's character as a catalyst to speed up the play. Lady Macbeth draws out Macbeth's desires, and so the audience are drawn into the play through its fast paced narrative. After Lady Macbeth has made Macbeth kill Duncan, she is no longer needed structurally. Shakespeare can let her guilt override her, and cause her to become ill and die. Throughout the play until her death, Lady Macbeth reveals the many sides of her character. When the audience is first introduced to her, she is seen as murderous, calculating and highly ambitious; yet, as the play develops she exposes a more feminine and humane side. Her complex character and strong ambition drive the play forward, giving rise to dramatic tension and engaging the audience's imaginations through the imagery, language and emotion of her role. The audience will wonder whether she, indeed. is wholly evil. The audience will feel mixed emotions at her death, as, although she could be portrayed as 'evil', they will feel sympathy towards her because they have seen her downfall and witnessed her guilt consume her. 1 ...read more.

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