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Explore the ways in which Lady Macbeth moves from a position of strength to one of final despair.

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Introduction

Explore the ways in which Lady Macbeth moves from a position of strength to one of final despair. 14th January 2003 Katie Lowe In William Shakespeare's tragic play, "Macbeth," Lady Macbeth undergoes dramatic changes in her character. At the start of the play, she is far stronger than any of Shakespeare's other female characters, such as Viola and Olivia from "Twelfth Night" and Juliet Capulet from "Romeo Juliet." She is, in fact stronger than most stereotypical women of Shakespeare's time, and those of the time in which "Macbeth" was set. However, just before her death, she is transformed into a shadow of the dominant woman that she was before, plagued by guilt, and haunted by the murderous secrets of her past. Her first appearance involves a long soliloquy in which she quickly shows her cunning and her hunger for power. She knows that she is stronger than her husband as he could be persuaded to do anything that she told him to. ...read more.

Middle

She is, in this way, clever, as she lets strangers see a pure and perfect wife of a hero, but in soliloquies and when in private with her husband, she shows an cruel, corrupt and yet loving woman. The first cracks in her strong fa´┐Żade appear when she is talking about the murder. "Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done't," she says, showing that her original intention was to kill Duncan herself, but she was not quite evil enough to carry it out. Just a few lines before, she reveals that she had been drinking alcohol to give her power, which is another flaw in her apparent strength. By Act 3, Lady Macbeth, who was once referred to by Macbeth as his "partner in greatness," is beginning to fade from being the backbone of their relationship, to being lesser than her husband. Whereas before, Lady Macbeth was the one to persuade Macbeth to carry out the murders, he now plans murders without her knowledge. ...read more.

Conclusion

Some directors choose to show that she took her own life, but in his play, Shakespeare does not actually tell us whether she died naturally or by suicide. When Macbeth hears of her death, he does not move to see his "partner in greatness," but simply says, "She should have died hereafter." This could be taken either as that he no longer really cares and knew that she would die eventually, or as that he would rather that she die now rather than later. Whatever Shakespeare really meant, Macbeth shows a lack of feeling for his wife, but at the same time becomes deeply introverted and philosophical due to her death. Lady Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's most fascinating characters. She shifts gradually from a strong, fearless woman to a weak, childlike ghost, yet all the time she shows overpowering feelings of love for her husband. Although she is not the main character in the play, without Lady Macbeth, Macbeth himself would not have committed the murder of Duncan and may never have been King. In this way she is also one of the most powerful characters Shakespeare created. ...read more.

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