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Lady Macbeth in act one

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Introduction

Manon Audig´┐Ż 2de2 How does Shakespeare establish the character of Lady Macbeth in the first act of the play? Lady Macbeth, as well as being the wife of Macbeth, is a key character in the play as she is the one who convinces her husband to kill the king. We do not see her till rather late - the fifth scene - yet she strikes us by her disturbing manner. Indeed she is exposed as exceedingly dark and evil, with close to no qualities that make her likeable by the audience. This serves as a contrast and ensures that the audience empathises with Macbeth. Scene five begins with Lady Macbeth reading a letter from her husband. The fact that he has seen fit to tell her about his abnormal encounter with the witches shows that they are close. ...read more.

Middle

The "raven (...) that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan" is a dark image comparing the messenger of Duncan's arrival with a bird that is associated with witchcraft and evil. "Make thick my blood, stop th'access and passage to remorse" is a metaphor that suggests an insensitive being, to the point of hardly being human, as thick blood is unnatural and unreal. As for the vocabulary, "mortal thoughts", "murd'ring ministers", "mischief", "smoke of hell" all belong to the lexical field of crime and sin. Lady Macbeth is therefore a dark character that will not contain her ambition because of it otherwise being wrong. However, although she craves for the King to be killed, Lady Macbeth doesn't actually have the courage to do it herself. Never does she speak of another option than that of her husband killing Duncan. ...read more.

Conclusion

While Macbeth remains inside his castle by fear of not being able to hide their plans, his wife greets the King and his men with "every point twice done and then done double", and praises the king with vocabulary such as "honours", "dignities", "at your highness's pleasure". This shows a hypocrisy in Lady Macbeth that enables her to conceal her thoughts, but makes her rather unappreciated by the audience. The character of Lady Macbeth in the first act is therefore presented quite pejoratively in this play. Shakespeare exposes her as a cruel character with too much ambition, which is a dangerous combination (as Duncan demonstrates). The unpleasantness of these traits is emphasised by her cowardice and hypocrisy. All in all she is portrayed as a character to be disliked by the audience, in opposition with Macbeth who as a result has more audience empathy. ...read more.

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