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Through close analysis of Act 1 Scene 5 and Act 5 Scene 1, examine the transformation in Lady Macbeth’s character

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Introduction

Rosanna Moss 11H G1 MACBETH COURSEWORK: Through close analysis of Act 1 Scene 5 and Act 5 Scene 1, examine the transformation in Lady Macbeth's character Lady Macbeth is one of the most complex and interesting characters created by Shakespeare, and her part plays a crucial role in one of his most popular plays; "Macbeth." At the beginning of the play, she is a highly respected member of the Scottish nobility, has a loving and loyal relationship with her warrior husband, and a quick, logical mind. By the end, she is a despised, mad, suicidal soul, tortured by guilt. By studying Act 1 Scene 5 and Act 5 Scene 1, I hope to investigate the ways in which Lady Macbeth alters, and the methods Shakespeare uses to portray these changes. In Act 1 Scene 5, Lady Macbeth reads a letter from her husband informing her about the witches' prophecy that he will be king. In the letter to his wife, Macbeth calls her his "dearest partner of greatness," a comment which shows us the close nature of their marriage and how Macbeth considers his wife to be an equal. (Perhaps an unusual situation in 15th century Scotland!) Shakespeare clearly wants to show Lady Macbeth as a strong woman who has earned the respect of her husband. The readiness of Macbeth to share the witches' astonishing news with Lady Macbeth so quickly and honestly also highlights the trust the pair must place in each other. ...read more.

Middle

In short, she thinks she is a killer, but there is a part of her that wants to close its eyes to what she wants to do. At this point in the play, the other characters consider Lady Macbeth to be a gracious woman, and Duncan calls her "Fair and noble hostess" (Act 1 Scene 6). Her actions in Scene 5 show us this is not the case, but that she is, in fact, cleverly deceptive and good at manipulating others. She instructs Macbeth in this scene to "look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under 't." These 'false appearances' will be vital if Macbeth and Lady Macbeth want to win the throne without others suspecting them of foul play. Outwardly, Lady Macbeth is the perfect gentlewoman, but inside she is a calculating, cold woman. She seizes the first opportunity to get the throne by planning Duncan's murder for that night, when he is coming to stay; "O never shall sun that morrow see!" Lady Macbeth obviously wants to be heavily involved with the murder, and tells Macbeth to "put this night's great business into my dispatch" and "leave all the rest to me." She wants a sense of power and control over their destiny. For Lady Macbeth's speeches in Act 1 Scene 5, Shakespeare uses verseform. This is done to show Lady Macbeth's thoughts are structured and logical. ...read more.

Conclusion

Her words in Act 5 Scene 1 flow as in a 'train of thought,' and phrases are repeated many times, to emphasise her madness; "Come, come, come, come, give me your hand." Sentences are left unfinished and often make no sense; "One; two: why, then 'tis time to do 't." The doctor makes a very apt comment at the end of this scene; "Unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles; infected minds to their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. More needs she the divine than physician." In other words, Lady Macbeth's invocation of the supernatural ("unnatural") spirits, and her husband's evil actions, have caused her to go mad ("infected minds"). The doctor admits he cannot help. At the beginning, Lady Macbeth finds strength from the supernatural to entice Macbeth to murder Duncan and to go through with the murder herself. As time advances though, her pretended strength diminishes as she fights the torments of her conscience. Lady Macbeth's attempts to suppress her conscience fail, and blame engulfs and destabilizes her. In the end, she chooses death because she can no longer bear the torments of her guilt. The dramatic transformation of such a pivotal character adds suspense to the play, and also delivers a moral message to the audience (which included King James I, who had a personal interest in witchcraft); that the pursuit of witchcraft, murder and evildoing can only lead to downfall. It also reveals a slightly different view of the "fiend-like queen", showing us that she feels remorse, and is vulnerable to it, like any other person. ...read more.

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