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Was Lady Macbeth in control of Macbeth's fate?

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Introduction

By Gemma Jackson Was Lady Macbeth in control of her husband and his fate? We cannot deny that Lady Macbeth did contribute to Macbeth's downfall although she wasn't alone in this act. Many other things did affect the tragedy; the witches who cruelly deceived Macbeth with half-truths about his destiny, Macbeth's own greed and desire to be king, and of course fate itself which although we may try to deny it or escape it we cannot because if it's meant to be then it is meant to be. Macbeth's fate was tragic of course because at the start of the play Macbeth was a respected and loyal subject to the king, Duncan. The play includes many different elements strategically put in it because of the events and issues of the times to interest the audience. There's no historical evidence of Lady Macbeth's influence or witchcraft, although the characters; Macbeth, Malcolm, Duncan, etc, did exist. I think that Shakespeare was being rather bold in suggesting that the suspicious death of the king was murder, and that he was lucky that it didn't anger people. Murder of the king is used as a shock tactic in the play. This was more shocking to an audience in Shakespeare's time as the king in those days was thought of as God's representative on earth for the people. For someone to kill someone as high up as that must have seemed even worse that it would nowadays. Shakespeare includes witchcraft in the play, he did this to interest the people as this was a popular issue of the time with many believing in it. In fact many people were accused of this and if they were found guilty of practising witchcraft were executed. Another shock tactic Shakespeare used was the characteristics of Lady Macbeth. An audience in the 1600's wouldn't have even thought of a woman acting the way Lady Macbeth did. ...read more.

Middle

Lady Macbeth isn't always in control in "Macbeth" "Tis safer to be that which we destroy, than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy." This is Lady Macbeth realising one of the factors Macbeth contemplated earlier in his doubts about killing Duncan. She's finally realising that in killing him, she and her husband have left themselves vulnerable for assassination themselves. In her opinion it is much safer to be Duncan at this point as he is dead, but they have to go on in uncertainty. When Macbeth enters she tries to take control again mentioning to him that he can't trust Banquo, "of sorriest fancies your companions making." She wastes her breath as Macbeth has already sorted it. By not telling Macbeth of her new guilty feelings towards their horrifying crime she is repressing her true feelings. Macbeth is now starting to act independently and not relying on his wife's input. Lady Macbeth's repressed guilt catches up with in Act 5 scene 1. In the beginning of this scene her attendant is speaking to a doctor about Lady Macbeth sleep walking. In her sleep she puts on her night-gown, takes a piece of paper writes on it and after returning the paper returns to bed herself. When Lady Macbeth enters (sleep walking) with a taper the attendant says, "she has light by her continually: 'tis her command." This hints towards the idea that Lady Macbeth's fears have led her to be scared of the dark. Lady Macbeth starts to speak, "Here's the smell of blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." "Out, damned spot: out, I say! One: two: why, then 'tis time to do't: Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie!" . She recalls bad memories of her and her husband killing Duncan, before she said "a little water will clear us of this deed," but now she feels she can't wash away the guilt. ...read more.

Conclusion

Macbeth takes the riddles as good but strange events happen afterwards that change their meaning completely. The half-truths had given Macbeth false confidence. This shows us that the Witches possibly find it amusing to tell half-truths and confuse their victims. This highlights their power. Although the Witches ply a small part they may have had some more involvement than would first appear. The evil tyrant that Macbeth becomes may have been a spell the Witches placed on him. When Macbeth sees a dagger that leads him to Duncan's chamber, that may have just been his imagination. On the other hand it could have been another spell put on him to make him think he sees a dagger leading him to the chamber. Another suggestion is at the banqueting scene, was is his guilt playing up on him or was it another of the Witches' ideas to mess with his head? It was all put in the play by Shakespeare to draw in the audience using their belief in the supernatural. In Polanski's version, at the end he had an unknown person going to speck with the Witches. This, I think, is a good idea as it symbolises that although Macbeth has died and his life and his story is well and truly over, the Witches live on, but not only that, evil still remains to stir up lives. In conclusion, I believe that Lady Macbeth's cruel and vicious nature had her playing a large role in Macbeth's downfall. Although Macbeth's own strength of character, his ambition and his belief in the Witches does affect his downfall as well. The Witches, in my opinion, were responsible for starting off this mad chain of events leading up to Macbeth's inevitable defeat. Shakespearian's would have believed more strongly in the power of the Witches, as witchcraft was believed in. In my opinion it doesn't matter what time you're from you can understand the influences upon Macbeth and appreciate the plot, with its interesting and deep characters. ...read more.

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