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Is Lady Macbeth a monster?

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Introduction

Is there enough evidence in the play to suggest that Lady Macbeth is a fiend- like Queen or do you retain a degree of sympathy for her? I don't think there is a simple answer to this question. I believe that Lady Macbeth did have some human emotions; however she had a dark side. Personally, I believe that she was fiend-like and power hungry, but she did have a human side, which we see later on in the play. This play was written in the reign of James I. He was fascinated by the idea of magic and witchcraft, so he was enthralled by this play. This of course made the play very popular amongst the people in Great Britain, and is still very well known today. Even people that haven't studied or read any Shakespeare plays before are still familiar with the story of Macbeth. Shakespeare's primary source for Macbeth was Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. The outlines of Shakespeare's story are derived from Holinshed's account of Kings Duncan and Macbeth. Although these characters existed, the story was purely fictional. Lady Macbeth must have appeared to be completely un-feminine to an Elizabethan audience. At this time, women were expected to rear children and have a strong maternal instinct. Women were portrayed as being compassionate and kind-hearted. Lady Macbeth didn't seem possess many of these qualities, so she must have seemed horrific because of her dark language and tone she used. ...read more.

Middle

She in convinced that there will be no consequences to their actions and asks "what cannot you and I perform upon th' unguarded Duncan?" She is certain that the murder will be a success, although she never refers to it as a murder. He has adopted her courage and absorbed her plan. A lot of people would consider her to be the fourth witch as she finishes what they began. Personally, I do think that she is an evil Queen, but do not think of her to be the fourth witch. The first time we see Lady Macbeth is Act 2 Scene 2 when she enters filled with determination, caused by alcohol. "Hark! - Peace!" suggests panic and that she's vulnerable to fear. She takes a pro-active part in arranging the murder by laying out the daggers. She was not the one to physically murder Duncan because "Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done't." If this excuse is genuine it implies that she does feel some human emotions of sympathy and compassion. Lady Macbeth is left to deal with the aftermath of her husband's killing and his emotional distress. Macbeth has realised that he has just killed a good, honest man. She reassures him, "these deeds must not be thought after these ways: so, it will make us mad." She tells Macbeth not to worry as it will drive him insane. He is too distraught to lay out the daggers, so she takes matters into her own hands by doing it herself. ...read more.

Conclusion

The doctor claims that he is not needed for her problems as there is no medical problem with her, it is guilt she feels. In scene 5 it is announced that "the queen, my lord, is dead." This is a very unspectacular announcement of the death of a woman who had such an impact in the play. Macbeth's response is "she should have died hereafter." This shows that he doesn't want to mourn at this time which implies his love for her is not as great as it once was. The last reference to Lady Macbeth is at the closing lines of the play, where Malcolm- the rightful heir to the throne- refers to the couple as a "dead butcher and his fiend- like queen" We can see that she was not completely emotionless as she feels guilt later in the play. She didn't have the emotional strength to deal with the guilt. Personally, I felt pity and sympathy for Lady Macbeth towards the end of the play. She may just have been a loving wife, trying to do -what she saw as- the best thing she could for her and her husband to lead a and happy life. On the other hand, I think she was power crazy and wanted prosperity and control. I enjoyed reading the play and doing coursework on it. I also enjoyed studying Lady Macbeth as I thought she was a very complex character. However I did find Shakespeare's language slightly challenging and couldn't really understand it at first, but I can understand it more after reading the play and think it is very poetic. Caitlin McIntyre 1 ...read more.

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