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The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

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Introduction

English GCSE coursework The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth Macbeth and Lady Macbeth face an extraordinary situation involving a strong supernatural theme and murder and treason of the highest kind. However Shakespeare still cleverly manages to make Lady Macbeth and Macbeth relate to audiences of all eras and to convey a strong moral message within his play. The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is fascinating to study. Shakespeare constantly changes their attitude to each other throughout the play, making it hard to form a clear-cut opinion of their relationship. My personal opinion is that, although events in the play certainly draw Macbeth and Lady Macbeth apart, their love for one another is evident throughout the play. Having encountered the witches, Macbeth sends a letter to his wife informing her of their prophecies. In the Elizabethan and Jacobean times the Divine Right of Kings claimed that Kings were appointed directly by God, and were therefore answerable to only God. This meant that to resist a King was sinful, and so to murder a King was to commit utmost sin against God. By sending his wife a letter with such treasonable contents, Macbeth demonstrates an incredible trust in Lady Macbeth. I believe that Macbeth's main motivation for sending the letter was his recognition of his own weakness. Upon hearing the witches' prophecies Macbeth interprets them himself, and speculates that the murder of Duncan is necessary for his immediate claim to the throne. However he is unwilling to take the responsibility and blame of murdering Duncan alone, and so by sending Lady Macbeth the letter, Macbeth hands the 'task' to her. Thus he provides himself with an authoritative figure behind whom he may hide. He recognises that Lady Macbeth is strong and impulsive, and knows that she is likely to act upon what she reads. By letting his wife announce that they must kill Duncan, Macbeth is able to offload some of the guilt of the deed onto her - he uses Lady Macbeth as a scapegoat for his already guilty conscience. ...read more.

Middle

It is obvious that Lady Macbeth considers her femininity to be a potential downfall, as she asks to be unsexed. She also says 'fill me from the crown to the toe top-full Of direst cruelty' - she asks the witches to give her more evil, but when talking to Macbeth she gives the impression that she already has the required evil and such qualities to commit any crime. This self doubt is backed up by her pleas to the witches that 'no compunctious visiting of nature Shake [her] fell purpose, not keep peace between Th' effect and it'. Lady Macbeth recognises that she too has some humanity in her, which must be ousted before she is affected by those same qualities in Macbeth when he arrives home. She fears that if this happens, their actions will be impeded and the deed will never be done. However, Lady Macbeth admits no such doubts to Macbeth. In order to convince Macbeth of her strength, she even speaks about killing her own child were it necessary. An act of this kind suggests the utmost strength and evil in a person, as a mother and her child have a strong bond. Not only does Lady Macbeth talk of killing the child, she refers to a brutal murder - 'And dash'd the brains out' - in order to enforce her strength on Macbeth and make him feel the extremity of his supposed inferiority to her. She says that she would be willing to do this 'had [she] so sworn as [he Had] done to this [the plan]' Here Lady Macbeth tries to make herself seem more respectable than her husband - she plays on Macbeth's male strengths. She does so because in Elizabethan and Jacobean times, the strength and masculine qualities of a man were greatly respected, and for Macbeth to have fewer such qualities than his wife would have been a source of shame. ...read more.

Conclusion

And so, although Macbeth seemed to grow unaffectionate and hard towards his wife at the end of the play, he must still have loved her. Macbeth ends his soliloquy; 'it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.' The last line, 'signifying nothing' is very dramatic as it does not follow the rhythm of the rest of the lines. Rather than having five strong beats (the pattern that the rest of the paragraph follows) this line has two strong beats and then a sudden stop with the word 'nothing'. This draws attention to the word 'nothing' showing Macbeth's feelings - his life has come to an abrupt and unexpected halt with Lady Macbeth's death, and Macbeth is left with 'nothing'. The loss of Lady Macbeth's love was the worst thing that could have happened to him, and therefore the only thing that could break down the wall which he had erected to shield himself from the consequences of his actions. Although it was not always apparent, I believe that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth loved one another strongly throughout the play. Their relationship definitely deteriorated as the play went on, due to the acts committed and the conscience of each person. The deeds which the pair carry out in the play meant that the public opinion of them deteriorated dramatically. Macbeth, who was considered to be a worthy man, became a treacherous fiend, and Lady Macbeth, the 'doting wife', became a self-created devil. Shakespeare adds dramatic irony here regarding the opinion of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as Duncan, who thought most highly of the pair, was murdered by them. This sense of the betrayal of a friend contributed to the ill opinion of the pair at the end of the play. Shakespeare wrote 'Macbeth' very cleverly. He established a strong sense of moral justice in the play - a wrong deed will always catch up with you. In the case of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, it was through loneliness, heartbreak and death. GCSE Macbeth coursework - Jan. 2004. Hannah Fulford ...read more.

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