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Lady Macbeth, an honoured hostess and a fiend-like Queen.

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Introduction

The audience witness a total transformation of Lady Macbeth from a powerful, scheming woman to a sad and lonely wretch. By the end of this tragedy she has nothing to live for, is riddled with guilt and has lost all sanity. At the opening of the play the audience see how fervent her hunger for power and status is when she summons evil spirits; "Fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of the direst cruelty;" (Act One, Scene 5, lines 40-41). This statement displays Lady Macbeth's character deeply nefarious, it would perturb the superstitions of the Christian spectators. The audience might also perceive her to be disturbed as in that same soliloquy she asks the spirits to, "Make thick my blood," At the time that the play was written thick blood was associated with illness and derangement. It would have been most horrific for the audience to listen to the character persisting that she did not want to be womanly, especially for someone of her status is society. Pronouncing that she wished to be unsexed and that she wanted the spirits to "Come to my woman's breasts, and take my milk for gall," would outrage their perfervid Christian views as women were supposed to be maternal and loving whereas she uses the oxymoron to intensify her wish to become corrupt and inhuman. ...read more.

Middle

Macbeth shows signs of weakening before the spirit of Banquo. However, Lady Macbeth shows her authority over the proceedings. She instructs all but herself and Macbeth in Act 3 Scene 4 lines 118-9 to "Stand not upon the order of your going. But go at once," thus managing to clear their estate of all the guests who had been visiting, which would have been a difficult feat especially for a woman yet her determination impels her capable. We sporadically notice that she is not such a nefarious character, as she would like to believe. An example of her vulnerability is when she needs a drink to give her courage in order to go through with the plan for the murder of Duncan, "That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold." If she were truly a 'fiend' she would feel nothing. Similarly, when she is anxious and awaiting Macbeth's return she utters that, "Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done't." Had she been entirely evil she would have distanced herself more and be unable to draw comparisons. The decisive moment however for Lady Macbeth is when she detects that she is no longer needed. Act 3 Scene 3 lines 6-7 describe this further when she asks Macbeth, "What's to be done?" ...read more.

Conclusion

We know that she is not a 'fiend' as we see on numerous occasions her inability to carry out acts herself, act 2 Scene 2, line 13-4, "Had he not resembled my father as he slept. I had done't." She is unable to distance herself from the stunt and even helping to carry out the act she finds difficult as she needs help to bring the courage she needs: "That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold;" illuminating further how she has some empathy for Duncan. The audience see just how terrible an effect all the events since the witches first met Macbeth have had on her mental state as they hear how she has taken her own life in Act 5 scene 5 from Malcolm. To conclude, it is clear that Lady Macbeth begins her role as 'honoured'; she certainly enjoys the wifely role of Scotland's hero. However, through greed and ambition, she forfeits her reputation and status. Certainly her actions are 'fiend-like' but she does betray some small shreds of conscience and is therefore well aware of her choices. A totally fiendish character would not experience guilt, but Lady Macbeth goes insane simply because she knows she has been immoral and sinful. Lady Macbeth, "an honoured hostess" and "a fiend-like Queen". Amelia Kelly CW & HW 1 23/03/10 ...read more.

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