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How is Lady Macbeth presented by Shakespeare? In what ways does she change through the course of the play, and how does this affect the audience's response?

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How is Lady Macbeth presented by Shakespeare? In what ways does she change through the course of the play, and how does this affect the audience's response? Introduction Macbeth is a Scottish play written by William Shakespeare between 1603 and 1606 and the links between King James and this tragedy are evident. The themes presented in this play are ambition, desire, and succession to the thrown, loyalty, order and greed. I will be analysing how Shakespeare portrays and presents Lady Macbeth through different stages and events in the play. Para 1 The audience first meets Lady Macbeth in Act 1 scene 5. She is reading Macbeth's letter alone. After reading the letter she displays her thoughts about Macbeth becoming the king. The audience is instantly shown that Lady Macbeth is ambitious, as the first words she utters are, "Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be" This shows that she believes that Macbeth will be the thane of Cawdor. However, she describes Macbeth's flaws as well as his qualities in negative and positive images, " ...I do fear thy nature, It is too full o'th'milk of human kindness." Lady Macbeth is saying that Macbeth's kindness to others is a weakness in his nature and character. Also, that it may adversely affect him becoming the king as he is not ruthless. She says that this ruthlessness 'illness' that Macbeth doesn't have, saying Macbeth will take any opportunity that comes his way, but he only wants to win his honours honestly. ...read more.


After the murder Macbeth is scared and is in a trance of what he has done. Lady Macbeth has calmed down and regained her self-composure. Para 5 During the banquet in Act 3 scene 4, Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo sitting in his place. Lady Macbeth reacts to Macbeth by quietly accusing her husband of being a coward, as she did at the time of Duncan's murder, "Are you a man?" (p.63). Lady Macbeth tries to attack his masculinity and state of mind by questioning it, "Why do you make such faces? When all's done, You look but on a stool."(p.63) She is trying to convince Macbeth that there is nothing there. Lady Macbeth says all he needs is sleep, but this is ironic, as Macbeth has 'murdered sleep' and Banquo has risen from his 'sleep'. Lady Macbeth is trying to cover up for her husband's behaviour. This behaviour is making Lady Macbeth more insecure and anxious even though she taunts Macbeth, this time she is weary. In contrast to her powerful speeches at the end of act 1, here she only suggests that he needs sleep. Once the ghost has vanished Macbeth expresses, "I am a man again."(p.65) Lady Macbeth then utters, "You have displaced the mirth, broke the good meeting, With most admired disorder." (p.65) The greater part of the play is devoted to this part. ...read more.


and to rally his spirits. She again shows her presence of mind in the Ghost scene when he becomes 'unmanned', but then, she does not see the Ghost. She uses the old stragedy of appealing to his manliness, but without success. When the guests have departed she does not upbraid Macbeth, but makes excuses for him that he lacks "the season of all natures, sleep." Does this show her gentleness and compassion towards him? Or does she feel that further argument would be useless? The Sleep-Walking Scene - We do not meet her again until this scene. She has now been reduced to a poor, mad creature, broken by events. Our last view of her is her delusion of nearness to Macbeth. Is there a stress on her sense of guilt, her despair and, perhaps still, her determination? Macbeth's few words about her (Act V,Sc.v) may be uttered in an indifferent tone, or even with a sense of something already lost. In the end, perhaps, we feel guilty for her, but we may still remember what appeared to be hardness and cruelty. +Persuading Macbeth She says that he is acting as if he were drunk when he clothed himself in his hopes to become king. In a powerful speech she explains how far she would ne prepared to go to get what she wanted. Lady Macbeth tells him that if, like him, she had sworn to do something, then, before she would go back on her word, she would 'pluck her own baby from sucking milk at her nipple and dash its brains out'. ...read more.

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