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Lady Macbeth

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LADY MACBETH Lady Macbeth is a fascinating character in the play of "Macbeth." When we first meet her in Act One, she seems to be a very strong character however, later on, we realise that she isn't so strong and can't live with her guilt of killing Duncan. She goes insane and later dies as a weak, vulnerable figure. She is reading a letter from her husband about his meetings with the witches. We get a very strong indication as to the nature of her character at this stage through her soliloquies - the first being her reaction to the witches' prophecies and the second being her response to the messenger's news of 'the king comes here tonight.' Lady Macbeth is determined that Macbeth should be king but knows that he's 'too full of the milk of human kindness/To catch the nearest way.' She is aware of her husband's weaknesses and indeed strengths, and is ruthless enough to exploit them. ...read more.


She has planned Duncan's murder right down to the last detail - she has planned to drug Duncan's guards and has left the daggers ready for Macbeth. She also seems to be the more devious of the two and, perhaps, the better criminal - when Macbeth brings the daggers down with him, she quickly notices and puts them back. Here, we do see a sign of conscience creeping through when she mentions how she couldn't have killed Duncan because he resembled her father. Throughout the scene of the murder (Act II, scene ii), she is under the influence of drink, proving that she is not filled from top to bottom with the 'direst cruelty.' After Duncan's body has been discovered, Macbeth nearly blows their cover when he starts talking about how he killed the guards. Lady Macbeth cleverly faints here to divert the attention away from her husband. In Act III, Lady Macbeth realises that the crown doesn't bring happiness - "Nought's had, all's spent/Where our desire is not got without content." ...read more.


She reminisces about the knocking heard on the night of the murder "To bed, to bed: there's knocking at the gate." Subconsciously she is going over the events in her head even those she wasn't directly involved with but knew about- "The thane of Fife had a wife." When she returns to bed, we don't ever see her again and we hear not of her again until Seyton says to Macbeth "The queen, my lord, is dead." Macbeth doesn't seem upset by this and basically says it was an inconvenient time for her to die. Throughout the play, we see a great change in Lady Macbeth's person - she changes from a strong, ambitious mind at the start to a weak mentally disturbed soul at the end. A great contrast can also be seen between Macduff's "O gentle lady" to Malcolm's "fiend-like queen." Maybe we should feel sorry for Lady Macbeth or maybe we should feel that she got her just-desserts. Either way, she was one of the most complex, enigmatic characters introduced by Shakespeare, representing the fundamental drive for human ambition. JONATHAN MORROW ...read more.

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