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How does the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth change throughout the play?

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Introduction

How does the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth change throughout the play? In "Macbeth", the relationship between the characters of Macbeth and his wife is central to the play. It highlights the development of their relationship and the tragedy which is at the heart of the play. The relationship deteriorates from one of affection & equality in Act I when Macbeth calls Lady Macbeth "My dearest partner in greatness" to that of seeming indifference to her suicide in Act 5 when he says "She should have died hereafter". At the start of the play, we are introduced to Macbeth as a brave soldier and an honourable man. He has been successful in battle, loyally defeating the rebels who threaten King Duncan. Ross describes him as "Bellona's bridegroom" worthy to marry the Goddess of War and King Duncan confers on him the title Thane of Cawdor which had been stripped from the rebel leader, calling him "noble Macbeth". Yet it is very shortly after when Macbeth and Banquo meet the three witches that we begin to see Macbeth's ambition stirring. We see his suggestible nature being attracted towards the prospect that he might one day be king. ...read more.

Middle

Francesca Annis, the actress who played Lady Macbeth, wore white, which is a sign of purity and goodness, whereas traditionally one is lead to believe the Lady Macbeth is an evil woman. In the Royal Shakespeare Company's version Judi Dench wore black clothes throughout the film aswell as Macbeth to depict the darkness of the evil forces at work as black has always been used in imagery to signify evil. Macbeth's soliloquy in Act I Scene 7 reveals the decline of his moral sense. He cannot bring himself to reject the idea of assassinating Duncan and yet his conscience is deeply troubled. He wants to be king if "It were done quickly" and would be successful. However, Duncan is his lord, a relative and a guest and Duncan is a good king and "Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been so clear in his great office, that his virtues will plead like angels." He tells her that he cannot kill Duncan because "He hath honoured me of late" and that this would cause him to lose the "Golden opinions" won by victory in battle. In response, Lady Macbeth berates him, angrily accusing him of being "a coward in thine own esteem". ...read more.

Conclusion

However Macbeth backs away from "bare-faced power" and will not murder Banquo himself. Although he distrusts and despises the murderers he employs them whilst keeping his plans from Lady Macbeth. She is unhappy, scolding him about brooding on "what's done is done" (Scene 2) and isolating himself. Here they are both uncertain and insecure. He is caught up in his own plans and she senses his withdrawal from her. When Macbeth reveals that he plans to deal with Banquo, he shows that he has become more dominant in the relationship by dominating the conversation. Lady Macbeth defers to him and he is affectionate and protective of her saying "Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,". Their roles are now beginning to reverse and Macbeth begins to assert his dominance. After Banquo's murder, Macbeth's mental fragility increases. Each time he tries to praise Banquo at the banquet, Banquo's ghost appears making him visibly distressed and causing the banquet to end in chaos. Lady Macbeth acts quickly to cover up Macbeth's guilt being revealed by claiming that he is ill but they are both under increasing strain. Macbeth begins to talk of himself alone and his speeches are full of "I" not "we" as before. ...read more.

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