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To what extent do you believe Lady Macbeth is responsible for the tragedy of Macbeth? How might the direction of the play impact upon this?

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Introduction

James Crowe English G.C.S.E. Coursework Macbeth To what extent do you believe Lady Macbeth is responsible for the tragedy of Macbeth? How might the direction of the play impact upon this? There can be no doubt that Lady Macbeth bears responsibility for the tragedy of Macbeth. She bears heavy responsibility for the murder of Duncan and is an influence and catalyst in the events that follow. However she is not the only influence, the witches are also a catalyst in the tragedy, and the supernatural definitely has a part in the play. Ultimately though, Macbeth himself is mostly responsible for the tragedy of Macbeth. A tragedy is when an essentially good person brings about their own downfall by their flaws. Macbeth, as we know, has several major flaws. Such as, his vaulting ambition and his jealousy of Banquo's foretold future success, his susceptibility to the influence and persuasion of his wife and the witches, and his willingness to act on these so outrageously that by the end of the play he finds it easy to order the death of innocent people. All of these are major flaws. As Hecate tells us, he is a 'wayward son' Act 3 Scene 5 Line 11. By definition therefore, Lady Macbeth can only be in part responsible because it's all his flaws that mostly bring about his downfall, and eventually his death. Obviously though, this is a very interesting and intriguing play where the tragedy is brought about not just by Macbeth, but others as well. ...read more.

Middle

Act 3 Scene 4 Lines 134-135. The witches themselves admit that they are simply trying to twist a person to their own devices, which places the blame on them. Also the queen of the witches, Hecate, says 'all you have done / Hath been but for a wayward son,' Act 3 Scene 5 Lines 10-11, this clearly shows that he is obviously open to corruption and he is easily manipulated. However it really shows that Macbeth is responsible to an even larger extent than we thought. It is the ease with which he is manipulated and corrupted, more major flaws of his, and the fact that he acts so dramatically on what he is told that makes him responsible to such a huge extent. So, although the supernatural is an influence, he gives into the temptation. Ultimately Macbeth is responsible for the tragedy of Macbeth. He's responsible because it's he that actually commits the murder of Duncan. It's also he that plans the murder of Banquo and Fleance. He orders the murder of Macduff's wife, children and servants. We saw how in Act 1 Scene 7 he decides his only reason for killing Duncan is his 'vaulting ambition' and yet he still does it. When he kills Duncan we can see why, even though his motives are flawed. Although his wife manipulates him as well, it is his flaw, the fact that he succumbs so easily to her wily ways that makes the murder his fault. But, his reasons for murder get less and less valid as the play continues. ...read more.

Conclusion

However if neither Lady Macbeth nor the supernatural were emphasised in a performance, but merely used for entertainment and providing the audience with information, it would leave the responsibility on Macbeth. Making Lady Macbeth appear insane, and downplaying the supernatural or making it seem slightly comic would be a good way of doing this. Also, the casting of the characters would make a difference in who the audience sees as responsible for the tragedy. By careful casting the witches could be made to seem comic or severe, and the casting of Lady Macbeth would also be very important. So we see that by the direction and casting of the play, the impact people get as to who is responsible for the tragedy of Macbeth can be greatly changed. All in all, Lady Macbeth doesn't totally escape blame, however she is not largely responsible for the tragedy of Macbeth. Although she did plan Duncan's murder, she didn't commit it, and although she manipulates Macbeth, in the end it is his choice. Also fate, it seems, plays a role. The supernatural, especially the witches who are the catalyst in the play, are also responsible. Finally, as the tragedy unfolds, Lady Macbeth becomes smaller and smaller in the plot, so we see when things get bad it is really Macbeth who is guilty. However she doesn't escape blame, as she still had a hand in the tragedy. Even she knows she is guilty, as we see that when she sleepwalks she tells us she is. So, to conclude, she is partly responsible for the tragedy of Macbeth, and the direction of the play can either accent this or make her seem almost innocent, but she is responsible only to a small extent. ...read more.

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