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Examine the changing relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in

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Introduction

Examine the changing relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in "Macbeth" and discuss how this is presented by Shakespeare. Throughout "Macbeth" there are changes in the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as they both in turn take on the role of the more dominant character. Shakespeare presents the play in such a way that the audience sees how progressively their relationship changes dramatically as a result of how they each handle their emotions following the murder of King Duncan. It is evident at the beginning of the play that Lady Macbeth is the dominant character in the play. She is portrayed as ambitious, manipulative and overpowering by Shakespeare. When Lady Macbeth is first introduced in to the play she is reading a letter from Macbeth, describing the Witches' prophecy and her reaction does not display uncertainty or suspicion. Her only concern is of whether Macbeth is capable of fulfilling the prophecy and she is certain that the "valour of my tongue" will persuade him. This letter in itself shows the nature of Macbeth's relationship with Lady Macbeth as he clearly trusts her to a great extent to have shared this potentially treasonous information with his wife, describing the Witches' predictions which indeed could become truth. The letter shows a deep love between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth and the phrase "my dearest partner of greatness" suggests that he sees her as an equal. At this time in history, women were seen as inferior to men and therefore this is significant. Lady Macbeth sees Macbeth as a weak character and is determined to "pour mine spirits in thine ear." Already at this point in the play we can see that Macbeth does not share his wife's ruthless edge and she is confident that she can manipulate him as her main objective is the task of killing King Duncan. Lady Macbeth prays to the dark powers to "unsex me here" and "come to my woman's breasts and take my milk for gall" as she wants to replace her maternal femininity with cruelty. ...read more.

Middle

Macbeth regrets what he has done and it is clear that it is burning on his conscience. Shakespeare creates a scene of intense excitement and when Macbeth is almost hysterical on his return, there is a feeling of extreme tension. This puts a strain on their relationship as they are both disturbed by the horror that has just taken place. However, Lady Macbeth only seems to voice her true feelings when she is alone. It is ironic that Lady Macbeth feels she will go mad after thinking about what they have done. The following scene is constructed so as to increase the dramatic tension since the audience are aware that the chatter between the Porter and Macduff is delaying the discovery of the murder. The imagery of the supernatural and the freak weather conditions builds up tension and it seems as if nature is in revolt at Duncan's death and indeed the whole castle has died with the King. Through his imagery, Shakespeare is spreading the idea of death and absolute horror. Macbeth and his wife work well together under pressure as they try to deceive the others into believing they are both innocent. It is ironic that Macduff feels he cannot talk of the murder in front of Lady Macbeth as "the repetition in a woman's ear would murder as it fell," when she has rejected her femininity and played a huge part in Duncan's murder. Macbeth successfully deceives the other houseguests and says, "Had I but died an hour before this chance, I had liv'd a blessed life," which appears to be a heartfelt speech. Macbeth kills the guards who he planted the evidence on and claims it was an act of love and loyalty to King Duncan. This temporarily makes Macbeth look guilty but when Lady Macbeth sees the situation she faints in order to distract the attention away from Macbeth. ...read more.

Conclusion

Macbeth is blinkered by the reality of the supernatural and cannot see that good will always triumph over evil. It is his arrogance that pulls him down and when he discovers the truth of Macduff he realises that maybe he is not immortal. Macbeth fights a losing battle and Malcolm gains control over Scotland when he is victorious and shows unity with his family and the whole of Scotland. This contrasts to Macbeth who represents division as he plans to selfishly rule Scotland and gradually pushes his wife away. When Malcolm is accepted as the new king, he pledges to bring peace and order back to Scotland. It is interesting in Malcolm's final speech how he refers to Macbeth as a "dead butcher and his fiend-like queen," as perhaps Lady Macbeth was driven into madness by her husband. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's relationship changed dramatically throughout the play from being one of love and loyalty to one of great ambition where both partners gained strength from the others' weakness and this resulted in a complete break down in their relationship. Lady Macbeth started out as the determined, manipulative and dangerous woman but her downfall came when Macbeth pushed her away as he gained more confidence and relied more and more on the Witches and the supernatural. Lady Macbeth was evidently the weaker character of the two as she could not deal with her guilt and in the end it was too much for her to cope with. She knew that the "sovereign sway and masterdom" had not come about and she was gradually drawn into insanity. They both depended on each other and when Lady Macbeth is fazed out of the play it shows the decaying relationship between the two as they lived separately in their paranoid worlds. Lady Macbeth originally fuelled Macbeth's power obsessed personality but he was eventually responsible for his downfall when he began to rely on the Witches. We notice a change in Macbeth's speech from a diplomat to a language full of blustering, bullying manner. ...read more.

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