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Discuss the Way in which Shakespeare Develops the Character of Lady Macbeth in "Macbeth".

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Introduction

Discuss the Way in which Shakespeare Develops the Character of Lady Macbeth in "Macbeth" In Macbeth Lady Macbeth's character changes throughout the play, from bold and domineering to full of despair. It would seem that Shakespeare portrayed her as a woman before her time, she was very commandeering over her husband, and this was unusual at the time the play was set. In Act I Scene 5, we first meet Lady Macbeth; she is reading a letter from her husband, Macbeth. He has just had his first encounter with the witches, and he is reporting back to her what they said. Lady Macbeth feels that she instantly understands what Macbeth wants to do, to hurry fate along, and kill King Duncan. Moreover she seems to know Macbeth's character inside out at the beginning of the play, knowing that he is "too full o'th'milk of human kindness" to commit the murder under his own steam. She is a very ambitious woman, and it seems at this point in the play that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants; to become Queen. She now knows that it is within her grasp, and does not want anything to hinder her. ...read more.

Middle

Lady Macbeth is frustrated that Macbeth has not completed the task as she had ordered him to, and rebukes him for worrying about voices he heard. This scene is very ironic, as she is scolding Macbeth for talking about feeling guilty, yet she ends up going mad with guilt. This is a very important scene, as we can see how Lady Macbeth seems to act differently around Macbeth, it is almost as though she cannot cope when she does not have someone to be in charge of. There is a lot of important imagery and language. In this scene there is a lot of mention of the washing of the blood off Macbeth's hands, she wants him to "wash this filthy business from [his] hand." Lady Macbeth seems to think that a small amount of water will wash everything away, but Macbeth feels that not even "multitudinous seas" can clean his hands. Lady Macbeth again shows her ability to act in Act II Scene 3, she shows surprise when she hears that the King is dead. In this scene Lady Macbeth feints, there are two ways in which this could be thought of. ...read more.

Conclusion

In this scene has many parallels and ironic reversals with Act II Scene 2, in scene two we hear her say, "A little water clears us of this deed" yet in this scene we see her washing her hands none stop, "will these hands ne'er be clean?" This is a role reversal, as it is Macbeth who previously states "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood/Clean from my hand? No." Her conscience has caught up with her, her being unable to get her hands clean in her dream indicates to us that she is full of despair, guilt and shame. Her mind has been taken over by the thought of what she has driven Macbeth to, and this has infected her thoughts and dreams. Shakespeare has written Lady Macbeth's speech in prose, not iambic pentameter; it would seem that this is to show that she is not in control any more. Her issues are between her and God, and the Doctor cannot help her hindered mind. This is for what reason Lady Macbeth commits suicide (off stage) in Act V Scene 5. Lady Macbeth is a complex and interesting character and Shakespeare has developed her well throughout the play. She has many sides to her personality, and was definitely a woman, and wife, before her time. ...read more.

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