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How does Shakespeare use the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to emphasise Macbeths emotional conflict in Acts 1-3?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare use the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to emphasise Macbeth?s emotional conflict in Acts 1-3? Shakespeare uses the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to emphasise Macbeth?s emotional conflict throughout Acts 1-3. Macbeth starts the play on a high as a noble hero having recently emerged from battle victorious; these positive feelings are replicated in his relationship with Lady Macbeth. He loves and adores her and calls affectionate names, such as ?dearest chuck?. In act 2 they kill Duncan, something that they had hoped would not only bring them power but closer together. However it is the trigger event that leads to everything spiralling out of control, and by the end of act 3, Macbeth is in a state of emotional turmoil, which is reflected in his deteriorating relationship with his wife. Indeed they are never on stage together again. At the beginning of the play Macbeth trusts Lady Macbeth entirely. He confides in her with everything, indeed he considers her his ?dearest partner of greatness? and tells her so. Whilst he talks to her, Lady Macbeth often interjects and alters his ideas; she has the vast majority of the lines and controls their scenes. ...read more.

Middle

This would mean that they were more likely to pick up on his quickly changing state of mind. One moment Macbeth is strongly against killing Duncan, saying that ?We will proceed no further in this business? and the next strongly for it ?Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell That summons thee to heaven or to hell?. This is a key scene where Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?s relationship emphasises Macbeth?s emotional exhaustion, confusion and conflicting thoughts. Macbeth agonises over the killing of Duncan. However, directly afterwards Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are completely in tune with each other, and rely on each other. At this point their relationship is not so loving but has become functional; they are working in perfect harmony as demonstrated by continuously finishing each other?s sentences, sharing the beats in a line (Act II, scene II). Their self-satisfaction however is non-existent, as their short lines indicate how nervous and jumpy they both are. Shakespeare also starts the scene with the shriek of an owl interrupting Lady Macbeth, the sudden noise would cut through and almost break the tension on stage, it would also be used to symbolise Duncan?s death to the audience. ...read more.

Conclusion

Similarly, Lady Macbeth who originally used strong imperatives to order Macbeth around, in Act 3 has become less certain, and asks Macbeth ?What?s to be done?? and refers to him as ?my lord? highlighting the change in the balance of power. It is interesting that Lady Macbeth and Macbeth still refer to each other lovingly during their final scene together, saying ?my lord?, ?love? and ?dearest chuck?. This tenderness is juxtaposed against the dark language and imagery that they use to reveal what they have lost from killing Duncan (in respect of both their relationship and their mental health). Shakespeare uses the deterioration of their relationship to depict Macbeth?s turbulent emotions. The character of Lady Macbeth enables Macbeth to speak his true feelings and helps the audience to see the internal conflict and the battle that plays out in his head. After that the internal conflict has gone; Macbeth becomes sure of his intentions and all his actions, misguided though they are, are driven by his desire for power. He no longer has the insecurities seen earlier in the play. Shakespeare has used Macbeth?s relationship with Lady Macbeth to signpost Macbeth?s emotional conflict, and once this has drawn to a conclusion, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are never seen on stage together again. ...read more.

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