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Lady Macbeth - Is Lady Macbeth Responsible for the evils of Macbeth?

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Introduction

(})Lady Macbeth - Is Lady Macbeth Responsible for the evils of Macbeth? The question that I have been given is to evaluate Shakespeare's characterization of Lady Macbeth and to decide on an correct description of her character, as I think Shakespeare intended it to be - is she a cruel, calculating, cold blooded killer; or is she just a confused and distraught lonely woman? Throughout the play, she shows qualities and performs actions that point to both of these possible outcomes, and I, through searching the book and picking up all possible leads (all quotes in Italics), will attempt to decide on which of these Lady Macbeth really is and if possible why she might have been this way. The first scene that Lady Macbeth appears in is Act 1 scene 5. In the beginning of this scene, we are inside a room in Macbeth's castle, and she is reading a letter that we think she has just got from Macbeth. The letter tells her of his victory in battle, and of his meeting with the witches and their predictions. When she has finished reading the letter, she begins to show the audience the darker side of her character. She begins by picking on the 'good' aspects of Macbeth's character, and criticises him for being "...too full o' the milk of human kindness..." This means that she thinks of Macbeth as being too soft at heart to do what she believes is correct, as he feels it is incorrect. However, she does use mothering terms when describing kindness. This reference to motherhood repeats later on, and may be hinting at something deeper in her character that is never actually directly shown . She backs up this idea straight away with the lines "...though wouldst be great; art not without ambition; but without so the illness should attend it..." This tells us again that she believes Macbeth too good and kind to achieve greatness by evil, referring to evil as "the illness". ...read more.

Middle

This is the first point in the play where the audiences outlook on Lady Macbeth becomes slightly more complicated than it first appeared: not only is she clearly an intelligent woman who has to deal with a husband who despite his courage and obvious skill is nonetheless lacking in aptitude; She has also confirmed our suspicions that she is a mother who has suffered the loss of her child, so once again more sympathy is gained. The general idea of Lady Macbeth is now a upset woman, who has become the person she is, through trying to find strength, getting it misguidedly, and ending up evil, remorseless, and manipulative. The next scene that Lady Macbeth appears in is Act 2 Scene 2, where she awaits Macbeth's return from Duncan's chamber. She is talking to herself while she waits, which suggests that she is a little nervous, and is of course a useful way of conveying the character's thoughts to the audience. We find out that she has been drinking - "That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold; what hath quench'd them hath given me fire..." Immediately after this line we see how nervous she is when she jumps at the sound of an owl: "Hark! - Peace! It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman..." Owls are also associated with death, which is why this creature is a good one to use, as it shows her being nervous of death. For the first time in the play again, we begin to see some weakness within Lady Macbeth's character, and this is again carried across later in her speech when she hears a voice say "Who's there? What, ho!" Her response to this voice is to worry that Macbeth has been caught, and she then gives the audience even more evidence that she may have lost some of her conviction when she says "Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done't" in reference to Duncan. ...read more.

Conclusion

Considering all of the possible factors, the Lady Macbeth that Shakespeare intended becomes a little more balanced, and therefore it is difficult to describe her as either uniquely monstrous or pitiable. After examining all of the available evidence, I have put together my final, complete analysis of Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth: Lady Macbeth was an incredibly intelligent and quick-witted woman. Following the hinted at loss of a child, she found that she had little purpose left in a world where men ruled and women stayed at home caring for the family. She found a way of putting herself to use by becoming the driving force behind Macbeth, adding fuel to his ambitions and correcting his failings. When she learned of the witches' predictions, she saw an opportunity to further both herself and her husband in the eyes of others, and seized it. However, despite her undoubted intelligence, she was unable to foresee the downward spiral of problems that would follow the murder of Duncan, believing that she could simply wash herself clean of guilt. As time progressed and the situation gradually began to worsen, she started to become dragged down by the relentless torrent of troubles, and despite her desperate attempts to pull herself and Macbeth free, she was eventually dragged under by the weight of their combined troubles. Following Macbeth becoming king, he began to become more independent of her, planning strategies on his own. Having no further matters to occupy her mind, she began to dwell on the past, slipping further and further from reality until she eventually completely lost her hold on sanity and took her own life. Had her ambition not overridden her sense of morality, she could have been a respectable, intelligent woman who complemented her husband's abilities to form a perfect partnership. However, she ended up becoming a tortured, immoral, dejected soul, and disliked by many people. Macbeth Essay > Lady Macbeth 1 Luci Drake 11G 02/05/2007 ...read more.

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