Lady Macbeth’s descent into madness and finally suicide are richly deserved, discuss
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Macbeth Coursework Lady Macbeth's descent into madness and finally suicide are richly deserved, discuss Lady Macbeth has often been considered to be the 4th witch in the play of Macbeth. This criticism is attributed to her interactions with the supernatural, her control on Macbeth, and her involvement in the murders especially that of King Duncan. Others find her a more emotional and sensitive woman, trying to be an acceptable wife to her heroic husband. This essay will analyse these two opinions and discuss if the emotional collapse and suicide of Lady Macbeth were deserved due to her earlier actions and her role in the rise of Macbeth. The key to Lady Macbeth's character and the changes that occur to it throughout the course of the play lie in the scenes in which Lady Macbeth appears and has most impact. It is here that we can form an opinion on her mental state and decide whether she deserved her eventual suicide In deciding upon this the historic context of the play must be taken into consideration. We must analyse the roles and expectations upon the wife and women in the medieval and violent Scotland in which the play was set. Also it is important to understand Shakespeare's reasons for creating the character of Lady Macbeth and how the audience would view her at the time. Lady Macbeth develops into a main character of the play and a major part of the plot. Her devious plotting and sensitive touch make Lady Macbeth one of Shakespeare's most controversial and greatly discussed characters. Lady Macbeth is the wife to a respected Scottish Solider, Macbeth, who at the beginning of the play is the Thane of Cawdor. The pair share a strong relationship. Lady Macbeth fulfils her role among the Scottish nobility and is well respected, as is Macbeth. We see her at various times in the play entertaining kings and enjoying playing hostess to noble quests.
At this time in the play there is a clear contrast between the characters state of mind. Macbeth, who is apparently too full of 'th' milk of human kindness,' is worried about and has nearly backed out of the eventual murder. Lady Macbeth seems to have no such worries. Does this tell us that she, unlike her husband, does not contain the same moral qualities? There are some points from the scene that could be used in defence of Lady Macbeth. Her opening line, 'What beast was't then That make you break your enterprise to me,' asks Macbeth why he mentioned the witches prophecies to her at all. The rhetorical question accentuates on the fact that Macbeth originally brought up the deed; it also creates sympathy for Lady Macbeth as she sounds trapped. There are also many hints in this scene to the pair's strong marriage, this adds evidence to the suggestions that her actions were to help Macbeth and she was acting unselfishly. Macbeth delivers the last line of the scene, 'False face must hide what the false hearth doth know.' Perhaps Lady Macbeth has felt the burden of guilt but this is an explanation for why Lady Macbeth's conscience and worries are never shown. Act 2 sees a huge development in the plot, the murder of King Duncan. It is the scenes immediately after the deed, Act 2 scene 2, and scene 3, that help most when deciding on the mental state of Lady Macbeth. They show how Lady Macbeth reacts to the reality of her plans and her involvement in a murder. Act 2 scene 2 begins with Lady Macbeth alone waiting for the return of her husband from King Duncan's chamber. It is clear that she is nervous and on edge, but she also appears boastful and proud of her actions. 'Do mock their charge with snores: I have drugged their possets.'
One that her persistence in persuading Macbeth to commit the murder of King Duncan led to his collapse and the subsequent killings. Her ruthlessness in calling for supernatural spirits to prevent guilt and her calmness in her performance of a murder prove that she contains evil and her suicide was fully deserved. It could also be said that her appearance in the early part of the play is driven by her devotion and love for her husband, and her ignorance to the lasting effect of guilt. Her calling on spirits could be said to show the need for an artificial insertion of evil into Lady Macbeth if she was to mentally survive the murder of king Duncan. In the later scenes her unveiling of her feelings and her disgust at the murder sprees by Macbeth redeem her and show her to contain the emotions, which seemed to be missing at the beginning of the play. There are these two strong arguments in the interpretations of Lady Macbeth because we are shown two opposite sides to her personality; it is as if they are separate characters. The opening two acts show a completely different Lady Macbeth to the one that appears in the later acts. Lady Macbeth appeared at the beginning of the play to be the most unlikely to be affected by the murders and a breakdown would not have been predicted. Whereas Macbeth, who was unsure on committing the primary murder, would have seemed the more likely to breakdown. This shows how the two characters completely change during the course of the play, so perhaps Lady Macbeth cannot be judged by her actions in the opening acts. Overall I think that the death of Lady Macbeth was deserved. She played a pivotal role in the murder of King Duncan and in turning Macbeth into the multi-murderer in which he became. Although her regret and conscience eventually arrived it was too late to reverse the damage she had caused, and too late to stop Macbeth's continual killings and his descent to evil. ?? ?? ?? ?? Robert Corrall 10S 06.03.02 Macbeth Coursework Draft
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