• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Shakespeare present the character of Lady Macbeth in 'Macbeth'?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

At the end of the play, Malcolm refers to Lady Macbeth as a 'fiend-like Queen.' Explore Shakespeare's presentation of Lady Macbeth Malcolm gives Lady Macbeth this description in the last speech in the play after he has been named the King of Scotland. He is declaring that the reign of Macbeth and his wife has ended and that his has begun. When he refers to Lady Macbeth as a 'fiend-like Queen', Malcolm is implying that he considered her deceitful, conniving and a plotter. Similarly, he refers to Macbeth as a 'butcher' because he killed so many people, each covering up the one that preceded it. One might feel that the description that Malcolm has given Lady Macbeth is accurate as it not only describes her character as fiendish but also as a Queen, which reinforces the power she held, albeit shortly. To have a character such as Lady Macbeth feature in such a poignant and important role in the play back in Elizabethan times was highly unorthodox. Women were not allowed to perform on stage and men played women's roles, explaining why there are so few roles for women in plays from the Elizabethan period. Luckily, Shakespeare did not like having restrictions put upon him to say what kinds of characters he could and could not have in his plays. Lady Macbeth's character embodies a resistance to play by the rules. When the play was written in around 1608, to have a female character going against female stereotypes so strongly, concealing some rather dark emotions and having the ability to have power over her husband early on in the play was most irregular. Nowadays though, when people go to the theatre to see a play, a character like Lady Macbeth would not have as great an effect than it did on audiences living in Elizabethan times. This is because, thanks to feminism and a much-delayed protest for women's rights, complex female characters are no longer as uncommon as they used to be. ...read more.

Middle

This is surprising, as the audience considers her a ruthless, fiendish character. Now, however, she has a background and a valid reason for not carrying out the murder which conflicts with the presentation of her character so far in the play. Macduff and Lenox both seem to be uncertain as to who the real murderer of King Duncan is and suspect Macbeth, due to his exaggerated speech over being really upset with regard to the murder. Lady Macbeth realises what is going on and faints, to draw attention away from Macbeth. This is, for the second time, showing how incompetent she thinks he is but at the same time shows how perceptive a character she is to notice the suspicions hanging over her husband's head. By Act 3, Scene 2, there has been a obvious power shift. Macbeth is now the King of Scotland, having taken over the title from Duncan. Macbeth says that he feels guilty though and that he is having bad dreams. At this point, Macbeth has arranged Banquo's murder by means of two murderers. The fashion in which Lady Macbeth speaks to Macbeth in this scene could be considered patronising, she says: "sleek o'er your rugged looks; Be bright and jovial among your guests tonight." It creates the image of a mother, grooming her son before an important Christmas meal with the whole family. This kind of behaviour has been consistent throughout the play so far, how she still thinks of herself as the dominant one even though her husband is the most powerful man in Scotland. Macbeth, meanwhile, due to the elevated level of power the title of King of Scotland has given him and the knowledge that he holds of Banquo's fate feels more confident and, although he still listens to what his wife tells him to do, does so with more disdain than before. Macbeth's choice not to reveal the planned murder of Banquo to Lady Macbeth emphasizes the new poise he holds, how he has more confidence in himself because he has carried out a murder and become King. ...read more.

Conclusion

When her craving is fulfilled by becoming Queen of Scotland, she has nothing else to live for. Because she has accomplished her dream to have a lot of power, she realises all too late that it is the end of the road after that. Her time which used to be spent aspiring is now spent feeling guilty over the deaths that her husband committed. When she speaks to others, but Macbeth is particular, her speeches were often longer than the person she was talking to, indicating that she held the dominance in the conversation. Now though, in this scene, Shakespeare wants us to see that her speeches consist of maybe two or three lines, showing that her importance has disappeared and now her sanity is slowly being eaten away at. Because, in her language, she is reliving past experiences, this just adds to the fact that she has nothing else to live for, and so can only relive events that have already happened. When Malcolm refers to Lady Macbeth as a 'fiend-like Queen' at the end of the play, I initially said that I felt the description was accurate and that she deserved to be labelled this. After fully reviewing the play and trying to understand the character of Lady Macbeth, I am going to change my opinion. I do feel that the approach favoured by her to obtain what she wants was not the right one and I therefore agree that Malcolm has given a correct portrayal of her character. However, she only took the route she did because she felt that all the others were cut-off. She was desperate to achieve what she wanted, but she was too na�ve to think about what may happen after she achieved this. Shakespeare was not trying to teach Elizabethan society a lesson, as other authors choose to do, but was just trying to create a female character who creates an impact and can be just as complex as other male counterparts. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Macbeth essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Explore Shakespeares presentation of Lady Macbeth and the witches. How might the presentation of ...

    3 star(s)

    very lady like, this would have made the audience start to think differently about the witches and that they are a bit abnormal. Also as the only female characters appeared in the play at this moment are the witches, so to the audience they may feel William Shakespeare refers to women as ugly and manly.

  2. Does Shakespeare present Lady Macbeth as good or evil?

    and makes him feel cowardly and childlike questioning where his hope has gone; "Was the hope drunk ...hath it slept since and wakes now to look so green and pale", suggesting that his hope has a hangover. A strong thought that comes into mind when reading Act 1 Scene 7

  1. At the end of the play, Malcolm calls Macbeth a butcher and Lady Macbeth ...

    Since this is not an ordinary crime he cannot be forgiven but lady Macbeth calms him down by saying these worries are "Brain Sickly." This shows that he is upset by his actions and begins to worry that God will be unable to ever forgive him for committing such an evil crime.

  2. What kind of Woman is Lady Macbeth? How does Shakespeare present her character?

    We first are introduced to Lady Macbeth reading the letter from her husband in Act 1 Scene 5. From this scene we learn that she is ambitious, "Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be what thou art promised..." Her ruthless side has not been revealed yet because she just

  1. At the end of the play Malcolm calls lady Macbeth a fiend like queen. ...

    The next part of the story is questionable as Lady Macbeth faints, this is possibly because she is overcome with fear and confusion but the more likely circumstance looking back on her past behaviour, is that it is all an act to distract everyone from Macbeth and to focus everybody

  2. How is Lady Macbeth presented by Shakespeare? In what ways does she change throughout ...

    We see discreet biblical references within the Captain's words when speaking of Macbeth, he talks of Golgotha, the hill upon which Jesus was said to be crucified. Whether he is comparing Macbeth to such a man is not completely certain, though it could be seen as an exaggerated compliment towards Macbeth and his willingness to fight for his cause.

  1. How does Shakespeare present Lady Macbeth? In what ways does she change through the ...

    becoming a Thane, he still regards his wife an equal to him. This would have been unusual for a man at this time. Lady Macbeths comment about her husband's character greatly contrasts with the captains to give the audience an analytical perspective.

  2. How is Lady Macbeth presented by Shakespeare? In what ways does she change through ...

    Like Macbeth she asks the powers of darkness to hide her thoughts so that not even the forces the forces of heaven can see through the 'blanket of the dark'. So the true nature is concealed. A 17th century audience could find this disturbing as she is subverting the qualities and features of a typical woman.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work