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"Lady Macbeth is the real driving force behind the murder of Duncan." Discuss

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Introduction

"Lady Macbeth is the real driving force behind the murder of Duncan." Discuss In comparison to the normal eleventh century wife, Lady Macbeth is not the typical partner. The ordinary wife of that time is caring, loyal, a good hostess expected to obey her husband and produce his heir. Lady Macbeth is all of these, except that she doesn't obey her husband; their marriage is a partnership, based on trust, friendship and love, something rare for that time. Macbeth is fond of his wife; when writing to her he calls her his "dearest partner of greatness". He tells her everything, valuing her opinion, wanting to please her with the news of the prophecies. By writing to Lady Macbeth, it also shows that she is literate, another unusual quality for a wife of the eleventh century. With Lady Macbeth and the heavily contrasting image of the typical eleventh century wife, we are presented with a disturbing juxtaposition. Clearly, there is more to Lady Macbeth than meets the eye. In Lady Macbeth's response to the letter from Macbeth, we see more of her uncommon qualities. Immediately after reading the letter, she becomes ambitious for what Macbeth has said is promised to her - to be queen. She wants to believe it and she wants the crown now, and has to plan to get it. She identifies Macbeth as the potential weakness to the plan. ...read more.

Middle

She continues to organise everything on her own, "Leave all the rest to me", telling her husband to "look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under 't". However, Macbeth is not convinced, and tells his wife that they "will speak further". In scene 7, Macbeth has found many reasons to not go ahead with the murder. Ambition is his only reason to commit regicide. After he tells his wife that "we will proceed no further in this business", Lady Macbeth tries to persuade her husband to commit the murder through questioning his manhood and his courage: "Art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valour as thou art in desire?" and "When you durst do it, then you were a man; and, to be more than what you were, you would be so much more than man." Then she turns to emotional blackmail: "what beast was't, then, that made you break this enterprise to me?" meaning what made you break your promise to me. But Macbeth didn't promise himself, only told her of "what greatness is promised thee." She tells him that she would rather kill her own child whilst feeding it than break a promise to her husband. "I would [...] have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums, and dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this." ...read more.

Conclusion

She continues to control the situation, thinking for Macbeth and herself. They go back to bed and wait for the deed to be uncovered. Is Lady Macbeth the real driving force behind Duncan's murder? We have all the evidence above to show that she is the more ambitious one. Without Lady Macbeth, Macbeth would have never committed the murder himself; he was willing to wait for chance to crown him without his stir. He had thought of reasons not to go ahead with the murder, but was easily manipulated by Lady Macbeth, and after the murder, while he displayed visible signs of remorse and guilt, Lady Macbeth remained in control and seemingly guiltless. However, later in the play, it was Lady Macbeth that took her own life, having gone mad and become unable to live with the guilt any longer, and it was Macbeth that became hardened and cruel to the end. He showed no grief at his own wife's death. In my opinion, it would be too easy to blame Lady Macbeth for everything. I think that the witches are accountable for starting the events that happened in "Macbeth". I believe that they started a chain reaction. How can we be sure that they were prophesising, revealing fate? Did they just encourage Macbeth to believe in his fate hard enough that it somehow happened? I think so. Out of context, Lady Macbeth is the real driving force, the guilty party, but in context of the entire play, I think she played a far smaller role than we credit her with. ...read more.

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