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How does the audience respond to the development of the character of Lady Macbeth?

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Introduction

ENGLISH COURSEWORK: MACBETH How does the audience respond to the development of the character of Lady Macbeth? You should refer in detail to the following scenes: Act I Scene 5 (the letter scene), Act I Scene 7 (the persuasion scene), Act II Scene 2 (the murder scene), Act III Scene 4 (the banquet scene) Act V Scene 1 (the sleepwalking scene) This play is one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies. It is about an ambitious warrior, called Macbeth who is persuaded by his wife, Lady Macbeth, to kill king Duncan. He is then chosen to be king of Scotland, but the murder does not stop here as he becomes more cruel. Lady Macbeth and her husband have a close relationship, at first, but the murder of Duncan drives them apart, so their relationship is destroyed. The role of Lady Macbeth can be perceived in many different ways and is usually played by an excellent actress. In the previous centuries, her character was usually presented in a fiend - like fashion, but now her character is usually perceived as far more complex and deserving, in the end, of some sympathy.. There are many factors which can affect the audience's response to the development of the character of Lady Macbeth. For example, the lighting can create different moods i.e. if the lighting is dimly lit, it could create a sinister atmosphere. Another factor is the scenery and costume or even the appearance and age of the actress playing Lady Macbeth. For example, in a recent stage production, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth were both dressed in black silk pyjamas (in Act III scene2) which shows that their relationship is close but also the colour black recalls the evil and murder that has just previously happened. The language of her character is the most important factor because it will affect the dramatic impact on the audience and how they respond to Lady Macbeth. ...read more.

Middle

At the end of her second speech, Macbeth has been convinced. This effect may play upon the audience's response as they might think that she is a person of strong character which can be admired by the people who know her best. In her third speech she tells Macbeth how they will kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth keeps her word because she did promise to come up with a plot which confirms the audience's view that she is loyal and unfailing. She is not fiend-like all the time as the performance has to be psychologically convincing. Macbeth was not just persuaded by his wife with her force, there must be other factors which have made him change his mind. For example, the lines may have been delivered in a sexually provocative way. The director may choose a young actress with attractive looks to contribute to this effect. Act II Scene 2 falls into three sections which are all in blank verse - Lady Macbeth's soliloquy, her dialogue with Macbeth which includes Duncan's murder; the dialogue between them both which is interrupted by the knocking at the gate. At the beginning of this scene, Lady Macbeth waits for her husband, who comes from Duncan's room with bloody hands. This is the first scene, where the audience sees another side to her. She no longer appears to be in control. She appears to be frightened and nervous as she drinks some alcohol to 'strengthen' herself. This is ironic as she has told Macbeth that he needs encouragement to kill Duncan which she will supply. "That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold" Lady Macbeth is also very 'jumpy' which the audience does not expect from her behaviour in the previous scenes. The slightest noise makes her anxious, "Hark Peace! It was the owl that shrieke'd." because she feels that the deed is not done. She also for the first time displays some tenderness: she says she would have done the deed herself, had it not have been that Duncan resembled her father. ...read more.

Conclusion

This may build up the audience's sympathy for her. Her weeping shows her despair and contrasts with the early scenes where she was once full of words. The Doctor is bewildered but distressed at the same time and observes that she has more of 'the divine' (spiritual help) than 'the physician' (medical help). His warning that she is at the point of suicide underlines the terrible depth of despair to which Lady Macbeth has been reduced. The Doctor's final speech makes the audience feel more sympathetic for Lady Macbeth especially when he says, "God, God forgive us all! Look after her." The audience's response to the development of the character of Lady Macbeth will change considerably as the play progresses. At first she appears to be grotesquely evil, so the audience may have been repelled by her character (although she did have many great qualities, e.g. she was loyal). However, as her character developed through the course of the play, the audience's response will change dramatically. After the murder of Duncan, there is a gradual deepening in her character as she seemed to be more nervous, more frightened (of evil), but most of all we could see that her guilty conscience starting to unfold. The language of Lady Macbeth may have contributed to this effect as at first she uses evil and vicious images to create an evil atmosphere but towards the end of the play, her use of language creates pity for her. I don't think the play would of had much affect if she was played as a fiend-like queen throughout the whole play, nor if she was presented as a pitiful character. Despite her evil ways at the beginning of the play, I think the audience may see Lady Macbeth as a tragic figure and may pity her because her terrible crime has led to such devastation. She can be most successfully portrayed as a woman of exceptional qualities like by tragically and deliberately misusing them destroyed herself and all that she held dear. ...read more.

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