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How does Shakespeare show the decline in Lady Macbeth during the course of the play?

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How does Shakespeare show the decline in Lady Macbeth during the course of the play? [Paid special attention to three scenes] When we first see Lady Macbeth the audience can see her as a strong, independent lady and yet a loving and devoted wife. As the play continues the audience can see her gradual deterioration and the separation between her and her husband until she is seen to lose her mind and become very troubled, so much so that she ends her own life. The first scene, in which Lady Macbeth appears in, starts with her reading a letter from her husband, Macbeth. This letter informs Lady Macbeth of the witch's prophecies for MacBeth's future. The audience can see the closeness and love between the two people by MacBeth's letter; he calls her, 'My dearest partner of greatness' Once Lady Macbeth has finished reading the letter she fully understands what needs to be done for him to become King; 'Thus thou must do, if thou have it' Lady Macbeth knows that Duncan is an obstacle they have to overcome and feels that the death of Duncan would help her husband. She also realises that Macbeth is too kind to kill. ...read more.


Instead she feels they have both given everything they can and gained nothing in return: 'Nought's had, all's spent' The audience can see from this scene that Lady MacBeth's worries are beginning to overwhelm her. The use of alliteration on the 'd' makes the words sound more drawn out and heavy which suggests her depressed state: 'Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy' The audience sees Lady Macbeth take control of MacBeth's actions for the last time in this next scene, the banquet scene. It starts in an orderly fashion and both MacBeth and Lady MacBeth greet the lords in to their banquet, showing the audience the couple does still do some things together although they are separated during the feast. Throughout the scene Lady MacBeth encourages MacBeth on and tells him what to do: '...The feast is sold That is not often vouched, while't is a making 'T's given with welcome...' The audience sees Lady Macbeth's intelligence of thinking ahead about how the Lords might be feeling. She feels this is a ceremonious occasion and the audience can see she sees the importance of that: 'You have displaced the mirth, broke The good meeting.' Lady MacBeth begins to get quite scornful towards MacBeth and tries to bring him back to his senses by saying; 'O proper stuff ' As the scene progresses Lady MacBeth finds it harder and harder to keep on concealing MacBeth's guilty conscience. ...read more.


We see her speeches are choppy and fragmented showing the chaos in her head and lack of control in her mind. She walks around obsessively rubbing her bands together as if she were trying to erase something: 'What will these hands ne'er be clean?' The audience can see her guilty conscience emerging and starting to affect her. The imagery of blood prevalent in the play comes out here. The blood represents the murder, death and guilt all shown through the play. Lady MacBeth goes on to say: '.... All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little Hand Oh! Oh! Oh!' Her sighs suggest she is suffering and is tormented by what she and her husband have done in the past. At this point the audience may feel a little sympathy for Lady MacBeth as they can see she is truly suffering. The audience can see the dramatic change of Lady Macbeth that took place in the play. She is seen surprisingly different to how we visualise her in the beginning. Lady Macbeth starts off a very loving, strong, independent women and has a very close relationship with her husband. Unfortunately she doesn't keep these characteristics throughout the whole of the play and becomes weak, dependent and troubled by the end of it. Causing herself to commit suicide. 1 1 ...read more.

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