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Lady MacBeth - Character Assessment

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Introduction

This essay is very focused on the character of Lady MacBeth and how she develops throughout the play, from her authoritive rise, to her untimely demise! It is a GCSE piece and gets around a A-/B+ Lady MacBeth - Character Assessment The audience first meets Lady MacBeth at home in the MacBeths castle. She is reading a letter that has been sent to her by MacBeth. It tells her of some witches prophecy to him - the prophecy that one day she and her husband would become King and queen of Scotland. This idea seems to kindle a fire in Lady MacBeth. Immediately she seems to be forming a scheme, or have to have formed a scheme. She says, to herself, "I fear thy nature, is too full of the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way". This might indicate that she has immediately formulated the idea of a murder. This straight away creates a first impression on the audience - evil personified! The first impression is of a monster. Someone who does not give a second thought to killing someone if it is going to help them (in this case) up the social strata. This impression is of a self-made monster that is driven by ruthless ambition. This impression, initially, is one of a powerful women, - that, with her husbands power could influence the events of this play massively. Yet, by the end of the play she is dead. She is mentioned, almost incidentally, to have committed suicide. This play is a story following a couple who with burning ambition set out and accomplished a lot of sinister deeds. It then follows them, particularly Lady MacBeth, through their despair and decline until finally they are both dead. Lady MacBeth by nature I believe is a manipulative woman; she has a goal in her sights and seems to use everything in her power to reach it. ...read more.

Middle

He is prepared to do 'all men can do', but he draws the line at becoming a monster. Lady MacBeth would perhaps falter at this. Yet again though, she picks up the offensive, though in a slightly weaker position perhaps. She takes a risk (showing the fragility of her situation) by replying 'What beast was't then, that made you break this wicked enterprise to me?' Lady MacBeth shifts the blame back onto MacBeth, claiming he was the one to hatch the plan, the crucial words being 'you break this...to me'. The audience will pick up on this, realising that it was never MacBeth who ever originated the idea, it was in fact Lady MacBeth. MacBeth fails to see this though and she carries on. She reasons that when he (MacBeth) had proposed this 'enterprise' to her, then he 'were a man'. Lady MacBeth tries to change MacBeths' perception of what is manly. She tries to change what MacBeth perceives as man, being brave and daring to do 'all that may become a man', to a man being almost a killing machine. She does this by saying 'When you durst do it, then you were a man'. Lady MacBeth thinks that a man is someone who would do anything to make himself bigger, stronger or more powerful. Lady MacBeth then uses a slightly different tack; she uses shock tactics to demonstrate how she feels about following through with the murder. Lady MacBeth brings to mind the most grotesque image that she can think up. She says she would take a child, hers, and 'while it was smiling in my face...and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you Have done this'. By this, Lady MacBeth reveals a side to her to her audience. Perhaps Lady MacBeth and MacBeth had had a child, 'I have given suck'; this may bring back painful memories for MacBeth. ...read more.

Conclusion

I would imagine an actor playing the part of Lady MacBeth telling each incident that she calls to mind, as if it cuts her mentally - breaking up her mind. The agony that Lady MacBeth passes through will eventually lead to the last part of her deterioration. Her agony will drive her to despair and ultimately, she is mentioned to have committed suicide. This is a bad end for Lady MacBeth; though, a woman of powerful ambition and driving force, and a person in an influential position - she dies pathetically. This end runs parallel to the events of the play and reflects on the outcome of the theme of evil throughout. Lady MacBeth thought she was as evil as she could wish to be, as unconnected from other womanly and human qualities as she might choose. She believed ambition and will power were everything - yet it was all these things that ultimately lead to her end. Lady MacBeth thought that her ambition and worldly success would justify any move she made. Lady MacBeth would not accept that evil is self-destructive. Her impressions of overpowering evil were in the end of a day - only an impression. Her conscience first shows its greater power when she is unable to kill Duncan herself. Her next step was when she had to come to terms with her and her husbands reality of evil. The mounting guilt becomes heavier and heavier on her, with the killing of Banquo and the guards. She has to continue to keep up her appearances and her husbands resolve, excusing his behaviour, supporting him, all whilst keeping on top of her own mental condition until he overtakes her in evil. This has its obvious end, she has no way of escape which further tortures her mental condition. The only way out of her self created downwards spiral was her own death. The powerful thing about her character is Shakespeare's ability to make the audience feel a sense of pity for this woman, evil though she is. By Alex L. ...read more.

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