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How does the audience’s opinion of Lady Macbeth change throughout the play?

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Becky Wilding 11Y "How does the audience's opinion of Lady Macbeth change throughout the play?" In 'Macbeth', the audience's view of some of the characters changes dramatically at various points in the play. In particular, the audience's view of Lady Macbeth changes considerably, which affects our perspective on other aspects of the play. The first scene in which we see Lady Macbeth is Act 1 scene 5, where we see her reading a letter from Macbeth. In this scene she plots to kill Duncan, and says that Macbeth "art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it". This implies that she sees Macbeth as weak, and that evilness is a quality that he does not possess. Furthermore she says accuses him of being "too full o' the milk of human kindness", saying he is overly kind and she would respect him more if he was more masterful and immoral. This makes the audience see her as powerful and dominant. The audience see her as the more controlling half of the relationship. At this point, we agree with her, as we see Macbeth as weak for not wanting to kill Duncan when we feel that it is necessary. The audience becomes involved in their relationship and success, and it does not matter that they plan to commit murder as we are amoral and want to see their plan succeed. ...read more.


As in the previous scenes, the audience see her as controlling and forceful. Lady Macbeth says that, "a little water clears us of this deed", which shows the audience how little guilt she feels, as she has no remorseful feelings that will plague her, as Macbeth feels, but insists that she will be able to forget the murder as soon as the evidence is removed and she has washed her hands. The audience feel is harsh and cruel at the time, but looking back after the end of the play we see that she was trying to help Macbeth to be strong. Lady Macbeth also patronises her husband and mocks him by saying, "my hands are of your colour, but I shame to wear a heart so white". She affects the audience's view of Macbeth by saying he is cowardly and weak, which in contrast makes her seems strong. In Act 2 scene 3, it is discovered that Duncan has been killed. Macbeth reacts in a very overdramatic and exaggerated way, making comments like, "had I died before an hour before this chance, I had liv'd a blessed time", whereas Lady Macbeth reacts with more shock, exclaiming, "Woe, alas! What! In our house?" This exclamation shows she has thought more deeply about how do disguise her guilt than Macbeth, who feels more regret, and is better prepared. ...read more.


We realise she was affected more by the murder than it seems, and our opinion of her in previous scenes changes as we see her true feelings. We can sympathise with her feelings of loneliness and rejection, as Macbeth has become the person she ordered him to be but left her behind. This scene makes us revise our opinions of everything else Lady Macbeth has said in the play, as we now see the guilt she obviously felt, but hid well. She seems insignificant and we pity her. Any power she had Becky Wilding 11Y is now gone, especially as her power over Macbeth has gradually been lost through the play, and he no longer needs her or is concerned by her death. The audience has lost their respect for her, and we look down on her as we see she was desperately struggling to stay in control and hide her emotions towards the end of the play and in the end could not continue. We see how lonely and isolated she became and although we look down on her, we still empathise with her, as we wanted to see them succeed. Although at the beginning of the play the audience fear Lady Macbeth and see her as monstrous and unfeeling, our final feelings towards her are more pity and empathy. I think that the audience opinion of her changes more than it does for any other character, but this makes her an interesting character and affects our opinion of the play. ...read more.

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