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Does Shakespeare Present Lady Macbeth as Fiend-Like?

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Does Shakespeare Present Lady Macbeth as Fiend-Like? In the play 'Macbeth', the character of Lady Macbeth is presented by the play-wright, William Shakespeare, as a fiend by today's perception of the word. She is presented as an ambitious and confident woman, which many now, in this century, will say is a good example for how women should be. However, the elements of evil contained within her character shadows her good points, putting her across as a fiend, even more so in the century when the play 'Macbeth' was written. It was common then to see women as inferior and to be patronised by men. Shakespeare breaks this common way of thinking in 'Macbeth' by portraying Lady Macbeth as the driving-force in the relationship between her and Macbeth, by which the audience at the time would immediately relate to evilness as it would be a threat to men and unnatural. Shakespeare presents these, now seen as good qualities in women, as bad and so will therefore lead to evil things if these, supposedly manly character qualities, are present in females. Lady Macbeth is presented as a fiend because of her ideas of death and murder and how they come easily to her. Lady Macbeth is first seen in Act 1, scene 5. Immediately she is seen as a fiend when she speaks of the evil that always comes with ambition, but even with this knowledge she speaks of ambition as the quality she wants, ''...and shalt be/What thou art promis'd...Art not with ambition, but without/The illness should attend it...''. ...read more.


The way in which she describes the murder of her own child is very graphic and distressing. Lady Macbeth is also able to lie easily, and deceive people. She is able to put on a smile even though she is about to commit a murder and this does not affect her conscience, ''...look like the innocent flower/But be the serpent under't...''. In this quote she explains to Macbeth how to hide his conscience. The language she uses here, for example ''serpent'', which is related to evil also shows that she is truly evil herself. Although Lady Macbeth is seen to be fiend like she also shown at points to be caring and 'woman-like'. On the night of the murder of Duncan she admits to Macbeth that she could not kill Duncan as he resembled her father as he slept showing that she does have a conscience and guilt was getting to her, ''...Had he not resembled/My father as he slept, I had done't...''. This small outburst of good character from Lady Macbeth is short lived when she finds out that Macbeth has killed Duncan already and is feeling very guilty. When Macbeth examines the blood on his hands he feels a lot of guilt but Lady Macbeth shrugs it off, ''...This is a sorry sight...A foolish thought to say a sorry sight...''. This shows her character to be very evil, it shows the audience that murdering comes naturally to her thus presenting her as fiend-like. ...read more.


asked to fill her and so her character in the play might not have been her true self, but the evil spirits within her taking over her. In conclusion, Lady Macbeth is portrayed by Shakespeare as a fiend, by today's and Elizabethan standards. The main reasons for this are her schemes for the murder of Duncan, the way in which she felt no guilt after the murder and, to the Elizabethan audience, her unnaturalness and her un-femininity in the way she possesses confidence, bravery and ambition. She is also a fiend because of the way she is able to influence and manipulate her husband. How evil she really is depends on the context in which the audience looks at the play. If the audience were to look at the play from an Elizabethan viewpoint, Lady Macbeth would be the villain and the fiend of the play that eventually got what she deserved; death. If the audience looks at the play from a contemporary viewpoint it is much harder to decide whether or not she is truly fiend-like as she possesses attributes that should be common in women today such as ambition, confidence and bravery. As it is an Elizabethan play and therefore traditional ideas are present, these aspects lead to evil. Lady Macbeth is a fiend as she commits murder, lies, blackmails and manipulates her husband for her own gain. These acts are always wrong, evil and fiend-like no matter which context it is looked at from. Page 1 ...read more.

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