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"His fiend-like queen" Does this seem a fitting judgement of Lady Macbeth?

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Introduction

"His fiend-like queen" Does this seem a fitting judgement of Lady Macbeth? Upon beginning the play, one first believes that Lady Macbeth does indeed possess the evil, inhumane characteristics of a fiend. Within minutes of reading Macbeth's letter, in which he informs her that according to the prophecy of the witches' he is a "king that shalt be", she contemplates regicide, in the belief that "fate and metaphysical aid doth seem to have [Macbeth] crown'd withal." Though this introductory scene portrays her as "fiend-like", despite condemning Macbeth for being "too fill o' the milk of human kindness", she herself is worried that "compunctious vistings of nature" will " shake [her] fell purpose" of murder. She then turns to demonic spirits, calling them to "fill [her] from the crown to the toe full of direst cruelty." It is the feminine traits of compassion and fallibility often attributed to women of the Jacobean era that causes to Lady Macbeth beg the spirits to "unsex [her] here [...] and take [her milk for gall]", for women's capacity for cruelty was considered to be inferior to that of men. Lady Macbeth is fully aware of her weaknesses both as a human and especially as a woman that may "impede [them] from the golden round." From this we see that Lady Macbeth is not naturally evil, for she calls upon the supernatural to aid her in the murder they are planning to commit. ...read more.

Middle

Paranoia causes Macbeth, against his wife's wishes, to hire murderers to kill his former friend Banquo, and his son Fleance. Lady Macbeth feels that "[their] desire is got without content" and begs her husband to "leave this" when he hints at disposing of Banquo. He ceases to involve his "partner of greatness" in his plans and she is evidently no longer dominant in the relationship. Instead Lady Macbeth is now in the position which befitted a Jacobean wife, for, according to prevalent Christian belief, the husband was the head of the family. Whereas Macbeth appears to no longer possess a conscience, Lady Macbeth is plagued by hers. She sleepwalks regularly, for "unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles" and is afraid of the dark, having "a light by her continually", even carrying a candle whilst sleepwalking. This is in contrast to the time when she called "come thick night"; she is afraid of the darkness which she once summoned. She, who scorned Macbeth when he feared that regicide will cause them to "jump the life to come", now fears eternal damnation. She pleads with the damning guilt to leave her, crying "out, out damned spot". In her disturbed sleep she instructs herself to "wash your hands", in the hope that "a little water will clear [them] of this deed. However, it is soon clear that Macbeth's fear as to whether "all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood/Clean from [his] hand" is not unfounded, for Lady Macbeth soon despairs that "these hands [will] ne'er be clean." ...read more.

Conclusion

This, if anything, is proof that Lady Macbeth is not "fiend-like". Lady Macbeth regrets their actions, begging her husband to cease his murdering, a sign that unlike her husband, she still possesses a morsel of humanity. Lady Macbeth is by no means evil, for evil has no conscience, whereas the conscience of Lady Macbeth is very much in evidence As an audience we witness, through the medium of the stage, the breakdown of Lady Macbeth. We watch her eventual unravelling, from her initial ambitious determination to murder the king, to her final, desperate act of suicide. We gradually realise, that Malcolm, blinded by the knowledge that Lady Macbeth was instrumental in his father's death, is too harsh in his judgement of her. By showing signs of remorse, not to mention an unwillingness to kill Duncan and an inability to be cruel without aid, Lady Macbeth proves that she has not the evil of a fiend. She is certainly not without conscience, having been tortured by guilt, nor is she without feeling, for she has known "how tender 'tis to love". I conclude, therefore, that though Lady Macbeth is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a "gentle lady", she is certainly no fiend. Though, at the beginning of the play she may have appeared to be as evil and inhumane as a fiend, by its closing, she is seen to be a wretched, desolate woman who deserves our pity. Joelaine Fitch 11L 1 Joelaine Fitch ...read more.

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