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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? The question of the essay, to what extent do I believe Lady Macbeth is responsible for the tragedy of Macbeth, makes it clear that she is the object which we study. However it is about the play of Macbeth, so therefore Macbeth himself must also be largely looked at. To answer this question, I first intend to outline how this will be looked at and then study the extent to which she is responsible. Also the question of the direction of the plays impact upon this I will look at to see how it affects the extent to which Lady Macbeth is seen to be responsible. However this I believe is less important than the first question raised, and it relies upon the first question so I will spend less time looking at it than the main point. Finally I intend to show that Lady Macbeth is responsible for the tragedy of Macbeth, but not to a large extent. A tragedy is when an essentially good person brings about their own downfall by their flaws. Macbeth has a few major flaws which I will discuss in more detail later, such as the ease with which the witches and his wife, an interesting comparison, manipulate him. His vaulting ambition and his jealousy of Banquo's foretold future success, and by the end of the play the ease he finds in ordering people's death, all of these are major flaws. As Hecate tells us, he is a 'wayward son' Act 3 Scene 5 Line 11. So, by definition Lady Macbeth can't be responsible to a large extent because its all his flaws that bring about his downfall, and eventually his death. Therefore he is responsible. However this is a very interesting and intriguing play where the tragedy is obviously brought about not just by Macbeth. ...read more.

Middle

The main reason is because Macbeth is mostly responsible. He's responsible because its he that actually commits the murder of Duncan. It's also he that plans the murder of Banquo and Fleance. It's he that 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, but, his reasons for murder get less and less valid as the play continues. He kills Banquo because he's simply scared he'll get caught, and he kills Fleance because he's scared of him, a mere child! He is worried and jealous about Banquo's prophesy and the way Banquo stole his limelight. This is another one of his major flaws in his character. Still, I don't think that this justifies the attempt at murdering a child. Near the end of the play he orders the murder of Macduff's household for no apparent or decent reason. He's been told that he should fear Macduff, yet he is told: 'For none of woman born / shall harm Macbeth.' Act 4 Scene 1 Lines 80-81. Therefore he assumes no person born, no human effectively, can harm him. So he thinks he need not fear Macduff, yet seemingly for some kind of security he orders Macduff's household killed. This is cold-blooded and extremely cruel. He orders the death of women and child, who are no threat and are perfectly innocent. This decision has nothing to do with Lady Macbeth, she is uninvolved as with the earlier murder of Banquo. And this is possibly the worst part of the tragedy, that he ends up so desperately trying to seek security that he orders the murder of totally innocent people. Also, it is made explicitly clear that he realises that what he is doing is wrong, and therefore he doesn't want anyone to know he's guilty, 'Stars hide your fires! ...read more.

Conclusion

The second is similar and yet has the opposite affect. By leaving the witches on stage, or having them watch over things, it accents their responsibility. By emphasising the supernatural in the play, like the horses eating each other, and making the witches' scenes important and even grabbing the audience's attention with those scenes it will probably lead to people thinking Macbeth and Lady Macbeth less responsible and putting most of the blame on the supernatural. Thirdly, as is often done, the play can be modernised and changed. If the words are changed and things are played around with by those putting on the production it can be quite possible to change words, actions or scenes to manipulate people's view on who is responsible. From this we see that by the direction of the play, the impact people get as to who is responsible for the tragedy of Macbeth can be greatly changed. The dramatic role, making the play entertaining, can change our views to place the responsibility largely on Lady Macbeth or not at all. 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 and therefore she isn't largely responsible. Also fate, it seems, plays a role (although how large is up to the individual). 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 he who is guilty. However she doesn't escape blame, as she still had a hand in the tragedy. Even she knows she is guilty, we see when she sleepwalks that she tells us her hands still smell of blood. So, to conclude, she is partly responsible for the tragedy of Macbeth, but only to a small extent. ...read more.

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