• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


How is Lady Macbeth presented by Shakespeare? In what ways does she change throughout the course of the play, and how does this affect the audience's response? "Macbeth" is a play derived from Scottish history, written by Shakespeare in the early 1600's, links between James I and this tragedy are evident. There are various themes running throughout the play, such as ambition, desire, loyalty and power. In this essay I plan to concentrate primarily on Lady Macbeth, making in-depth analysis of the complexities in her character and the way in which she changes throughout the course of the play, soughting out any possible causes for such change, and reason for why Shakespeare may have chosen to present her in any particular way. "Macbeth" follows the guidelines of any typical tragedy (situation - catalyst - complication - climax - denovment.). Lady Macbeth works as the catalyst of the play, her presence in ensures that Macbeth comes to his inevitable downfall. During the time that Shakespeare wrote "Macbeth" the predominantly Christian population of Jacobean England held strong beliefs in witches and the supernatural. King James was particularly interested in these ideas and published a book entitled "Daemonologie". Jacobean people were horrified by the concept of witchcraft and believed that it shut out the heavens. They were prepared to use any method in order to ensure such practises were extinguished. The witches featured in Macbeth exhibit the diabolical powers which they have acquired, such as predicting the future. Lady Macbeth was a character created by Shakespeare to act as a catalyst. She is used to shock the audience, as she is not only the complete inverse of the archetypal Jacobean female, but she is Macbeth's equal in their relationship - at times even the dominant of the two. This was seen as a disturbance in the "Natural Order", where the woman's place was in the home, to be loving and maternal and to fulfil her role as a mother and wife. ...read more.


("slept", sleep is something that will later plague Macbeth). When she notices that she has affected Macbeth with these words she proceeds to accuse him of cowardice, "Art thou afeard to be in the same on thine own act and valour as thou art in desire" She asks Macbeth whether he is really worthy of his name. He is renowned for his courageous behaviour and bravery on the battle field, yet shows such fear in commiting to something he had sworn to do. This is an important part in Lady Macbeth's attack when trying to persuade Macbeth, as in order to gain such a rank and furthermore such commendation from his fellows he is required to be worthy of such a role, to be brave and show cold blooded ambition on the battle field. Lady Macbeth plays on this and asks why he cannot make such commitment outside the field. "I have given suck, and know How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me - I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you Have done to this." This is probably one of the most shocking statements by Lady Macbeth in the whole of the play. She has proven to be the complete opposite to any archetypical female, let alone wife of the time. The imagery used is extremely violent, and most likely used as a shock tactic by Lady Macbeth to really strike Macbeth with what she is saying. Shakespeare most likely used the imagery to shock and dismay the audience, and to expose the evil driving force behind the Macbeths' plan to come to the throne. She also emphasizes the fact, that had she made promise to Macbeth that she would undertake a deed, she would do so no matter the consequences. ...read more.


He believes that the only way she will be cured is through God's mercy, and states that in this unusual case a doctor is of little use. "More needs she the divine than the Physician:" . The most pity the audience feel for Lady Macbeth is more than likely in 5:5, as they can see Macbeth's final words for her are (most likely) uttered in an indifferent tone, possibly with the feeling that she eventually became a lost cause "She should have died hereafter; There would have been time for such a word.". Perhaps the audience eventually feel pity for Lady Macbeth, but only a pity that lives within the confines of her hardness and cruelty. Can true pity be felt for such a woman? Throughout the play Lady Macbeth is potrayed as an evil, manipulative woman - often compared with the Weird Sisters to accentuate the illegitimate means in which she gains power. Contrary to this, one can also see Lady Macbeth as an object of pity, she is a character whose ambition drove her to fight against herself - her desire forcing her to repress her feelings of guilt in order to stay strong. Such repression eventually takes its toll on Lady Macbeth, as we see in 5:1 she is left in a pitiful state of hysteria, unable to control her actions and in desperate search of any form of redemption. Such a wish for purification eventually leads her to take her own life, or so it is believed. The disentigration of Lady Macbeth's character may be seen by the audience as a moral to the play, it seems to warn of the dangers that women in power pose. It appears that women in power in this patriarchal society are demonised if they step out of the conforms of the "Natural Order", it will supposedly cause great unrest. Throughout the scenes leading up to Duncan's murder indirect comparisons between Lady Macbeth and "Eve" the biblical character can be seen. In persuading Macbeth to kill Duncan Lady Macbeth appears as Eve, the servant of the serpent, tempting Adam into damnation. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Macbeth essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How does Lady Macbeth change throughout the play, "Macbeth"?

    5 star(s)

    the terrible things that are about to occur, the quick succession of imperatives, "Come... tend... fill... make... stop..." makes her speech sound like a spell adding to the theme of witchcraft and "make thick my blood" conjures the image of asking for bravery as thin blood is the symbol of

  2. Marked by a teacher

    How might a Jacobean audience see certain events in MACBETH differently to a modern ...

    4 star(s)

    When Lady Macbeth calls on evil spirits to make her powerful and string-minded to carry out the murder of Duncan she says, "Unsex me here," and, "Make thick my blood." She actually wants to be changed into a man (on the inside)

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Analysis of the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

    3 star(s)

    Lady Macbeth attempts to reassure the guests in between his outbursts. "Think of this, good peers, But as a thing of custom. 'Tis no other, Only it spoils the pleasure of the time." But as Macbeth rants on, terrified, she realises she is losing control of the situation, and makes

  2. How does Shakespeare present Lady Macbeth's character and how does it change during the ...

    and wants to rid herself of the memory, even when Lady Macbeth is washing her hands of the blood of Duncan (while in her sleep) she asks "what, will these hands ne're be clean?" foreseeing that she will never have peace in her mind.

  1. In what ways does Shakespeare make the opening scenes of Macbeth dramatic?

    the 'natural order' that God had originally set up- again opposing to the natural ways of humanity. This is also shown through a spell they chant together in scene one, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair". They believe everything evil is good, contradicting what the society they live in believes- that everything evil is bad and sinful.

  2. How does Shakespeare Present the Supernatural in Macbeth?

    The Lords are curious and suspicious towards Macbeth's strange behaviour and tantrum like fit."What is't that moves your highness?" "Which of you have done this?" "What, my good Lord?" "Thou canst not say I did it; never shake thy gory locks at me!" "Gentlemen, rise, his highness is not well."

  1. Explain how Shakespeare Uses Gender Roles in Macbeth

    An example of this link is in Act 1 Scene 2 when the wounded captain is telling the king about his great victory. King Duncan says "O valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman!" Telling the sergeant that he is a worthy gentleman because he fought well in the battle shows the definition of manliness at the time.

  2. Explore the way the theme of the supernatural is presented in Macbeth and The ...

    The witches unnerve him and he realises that there is something ?other? about them but he is vain and they flatter him so his mind is set on becoming King. On one hand, Macbeth doesn?t believe in the witch?s prophecy and believes if he is to become King then it will happen.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work