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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: English
  • Document length: 545 words

Macbeth Act 1, scene 5 Analysis.

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Introduction

Act 1, scene 5 Analysis Coursework At Inverness, Lady Macbeth reads a letter from Macbeth telling of his meeting with the witches. She fears that his nature is not ruthless enough, is "too full o' th' milk of human kindness," to murder Duncan and assure the completion of the witches' prophesy. He has ambition enough, she claims, but lacks the gumption to act on it. She then implores him to hurry home so that she can "pour [her] spirits in [his] ear," in other words, goad him on to the murder he must commit. When a messenger arrives with the news that Duncan is coming, Lady Macbeth calls on the heavenly powers to "unsex me here" and fill her with cruelty, taking from her all natural womanly compassion.

Middle

And yet her very ruthlessness is another form of ambiguity, for in swearing to help Macbeth realize the Weird Sisters' prophecy, she must cast off her femininity. In a speech at the beginning of scene five, she calls on the spirits of the air to take away her womanhood: Come you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood. Stop up th'access and passage to remorse, That no compunctious visitings of nature Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between Th'effect and it. Come to my woman's breasts And take my milk for gall, you murd'ring ministers (I.v 47-55).

Conclusion

Later she reinforces the rejection of her femininity by claiming that she would go so far as to cast off all of the motherly sentiments that go along with it: I have given suck, and know How tender tis to love the babe that milks me. I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums And dashed its brains out, had I so sworn as you Have done to this (I.vii 61-67). However, this does not mean that in rejecting her femininity she becomes a man. Instead she becomes a woman devoid of the sexual characteristics and sentimentality that make her a woman. She becomes entirely unnatural and inhuman. Like the supernatural Weird Sisters with their beards, Lady Macbeth becomes something that does not fit into the natural world.

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