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How does Shakespeare show the contrast in Lady Macbeths character between act 1 scene 5 and act 5 scene 1?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare show the contrast in Lady Macbeth's character between act 1 scene 5 and act 5 scene 1? Shakespeare's Macbeth is a tragedy written in the 1600's it explores the themes of good and evil, betrayal and the supernatural. It was written for King James who had recently made Shakespeare his play right out of thanks Shakespeare wrote Macbeth. King James believed himself to have magical healing powers and was fascinated by witchcraft he had even wrote a book on it. Society in Shakespeare's time believed that women should be submissive and were the lesser sex, they were suppose to stay at home, look after the children, cook and clean they were suppose to be subservient. Macbeth would have had a great deal of significance to an Elizabethan audience as it was based on a time not to far away from their own. They would have known the significance of every act that went on in the play and how serious each of them was. At the time the king was believed to be picked by god, this meant that killing the king was like killing god which was the highest possible crime. Macbeth is split into 5 Acts each with either three, four or seven scenes there are 30 characters in the play although 12 of these characters are minor with the exception of the witches and are only seen once or twice. ...read more.

Middle

Lady Macbeth quickly begins manipulating Macbeth and begins insulting his manhood. She says "what beast was't that made you break this enterprise to me" we see the brilliant side of Lady Macbeth although evil she is extremely intelligent to be able to control the situation so well. Lady Macbeth then goes as far as to say "I would, while it was smiling in my face, have pluck'd the nipple from his boneless gums, and dash'd the brains out, had I so sword as you have done to this." She is going as far as using the horrific image of killing her own child while she breastfeeds it despite the bond they share. Lady Macbeth may have used this image as a front, this may be because she believes that this is for Macbeth and is showing him a sort of tough love. She may believe this is the only way Macbeth would be able to become king and only wants what's best for him. An attitude like this would have been impossible because of how women were seen, they would have been thought incapable of intelligent thoughts like these. The Elizabethan audience would have been shocked, disturbed and maybe even outraged at his, a strong female character would have been controversial the fact that she would have been able to think for herself would be deemed impossible. ...read more.

Conclusion

It should be noted that Lady Macbeth changes from verse to prose, I believe this is showing that Lady Macbeth has gone completely mad and has been reduced from a noble to the same level as a peasant. Shakespeare uses role reversal in this scene to show the contrast in her personality between act 1 scene 5 and act 5 scene 1. Macbeth is now guilt free and is planning and taking control of everything while Lady Macbeth slowly fades into the background and she is driven insane. She continuously tries to wash her hands while she sleepwalks trying to get rid of the blood that she thinks she can see on her hands the same blood that she told Macbeth "Go get some water and wash this filthy witness from your hand." Apart from Irony and guilt this can have another meaning though. Washing was seen as a woman's job and what they were expected to do, all those wall that she built up while trying to make everyone believe she was tough have come down and she is now reverting to how a weak and helpless woman in the time period would act. Due to how Lady Macbeth is put across in the play Shakespeare could be said to be a misogynist, but if we look deeper into I believe that Shakespeare is just trying reinforce his beliefs that evil acts do not go unpunished and that women in the time should know their place. Conor Newton ...read more.

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