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Is Lady Macbeth A Fiend-Like Queen?

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Introduction

Is Lady Macbeth A Fiend-Like Queen? Lady Macbeth has weaknesses which are hidden by a strong exterior. Her ambitions overpower her worries and doubts about behaving and acting in a diabolical way. This makes her initially seem evil or "fiend-like". Yet she has different strands to her character. By the end of the play, however, the better side of Lady Macbeth's character surfaces. She is so overcome by her sense of guilt over the murders that she commits suicide. On balance therefore although she has some fiend-like qualities she cannot be described as totally fiend-like. When we first see Lady Macbeth, she is reading a letter, from her husband, which encloses the predictions that the witches foretold for Macbeth. The prophecy is that Macbeth will be King. She promptly decides on Duncan's murder to fulfil the prophecy, "Glamis thou art, And Cawdor, And shalt be what thou are promised". She makes it apparent that she will do anything for the prophecy to be fulfilled because of the emphasis on "shalt be". When Lady Macbeth learns that Duncan is on his way to the castle she calls on the evil spirits to make her callous so that she can carry out the murder of Duncan. She requests them to "..........unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full Of direst cruelty". ...read more.

Middle

Lady Macbeth made the preparations for the murder and awaits her husbands return. She shows signs of weaknesses and nervousness. We know that she has drunk alcohol and this is used sometimes to steady one's nerves. "That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold. .................hath given me fire." These two points back up the argument of Lady Macbeth not being a fiend-like queen since a totally evil person would not be nervous but confident about a murder. We also know that Lady Macbeth herself could not commit the murder. Whereas really evil people only have a strong desire for something they want, Lady Macbeth when she saw Duncan asleep, resembling her father, therefore she felt she was unable to commit the murder. "...................had he not resembled My father as he slept, I had done't." When Macbeth returns, he is obsessed with thoughts of damnation. Lady Macbeth reacts as though she is glad to see his return but she is still nervous. We see this as the dialogue is short sentences. When he talks about his fears, however, she pulls herself together and dismisses them. She says to him ".....consider it not so deeply." This is said to mean he is seeing too far into it and everything will be fine. Here she is being strong for her husband. ...read more.

Conclusion

She seems to be constantly washing her hands and not being able to get the smell of blood from them. "Out damned spot"; and again, "Here's the smell of blood still; all the Perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." There is irony in this as she is the one who had told Macbeth that "a little water" would clear them of their actions. A person usually sleepwalks when they are troubled. At this point, it appears that Lady Macbeth has finally cracked because of the strain of secrecy and being strong for Macbeth as well as herself. This proves she is not fiend-like because she knows what she has done is wrong. By this time also she must know, or suspect that Banquo and Lady Macduff, and her innocent children, have also been murdered. She may also feel responsible for setting Macbeth on this path of bloody massacre. At the end of the play she kills herself which shows that she doesn't feel worthy enough to live for all the sins she has contributed towards. From the beginning of the play we see Lady Macbeth, giving the impression of her being strong and powerful, gradually become a weak woman. This is why there is a strong argument for saying that Lady Macbeth is not fiend-like queen, or at least not completely. Any fiend-like qualities which she has surface only at the point of strong desire or when she needs something for someone very close to her. ...read more.

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