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What kind of Woman is Lady Macbeth? How does Shakespeare present her character?

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Introduction

Abigail Kaye What kind of Woman is Lady Macbeth? How does Shakespeare present her character? Throughout Macbeth, we are introduced to several interesting characters that influence events for good or bad. Perhaps the most complete character of all could be argued to be Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth often takes centre stage and reveals her emotions to the audience through several soliloquies. Because she is such a complex character, the audience has to make their own conclusions about her personality and drive behind her actions. To me, she appears at first to be loving but ambitious. By the end of the play, Lady Macbeth is revealed to be cruel but loyal, aggressive, ruthless and neurotic. The fact that she kills herself shows how mentally unstable she becomes. Lady Macbeth plays a crucial part in the key events surrounding Macbeth. Throughout the play we see her determination build to a point where she pushes Macbeth and herself over the edge. We see that as soon as Lady Macbeth reads her husband's letter telling her of the witches' predictions she instantly starts to plan the murder of King Duncan. As soon as Macbeth returns home, she quickly plants seeds of ruthless ambition into his mind and we watch her guide him along the treacherous path of murder and deceit. When Macbeth starts to have doubts, she rapidly persuades him to go ahead with the King's murder. ...read more.

Middle

This shows that he already is beginning to break. He is imagining things will eventually contribute to his downfall. Lady Macbeth dismisses this as ramblings of a man just having done a terrible deed and leads him to bed. She calms him by telling him to "go, get some water", almost like he has just cut his hand or some other minor incident. We see that she has no concern for the fact that a murder has taken place when she goes to take the daggers back. She is more frustrated that Macbeth has evidence of the crime with him than the fact that the King is dead. "Why did you bring these daggers from the place?" is proof of her desperation that they not be discovered. She is willing to take the risk in taking the daggers back to the guards and covering them with the blood (to make the blame fall on them) rather than have them on her person if she is caught. The next morning Macbeth makes the mistake of killing the guards. Although he does it as if in a rage about the King's death, afterwards when explaining his deeds to the King's Men, he starts to babble. Lady Macbeth conveniently faints to distract the guards from Macbeth's gibberish. Here we see that she is aware of her feminine charms and uses them to protect her husband. ...read more.

Conclusion

Shakespeare presents a more realistic representation of men and women. Another central aspect to the play is the fact that throughout it Shakespeare hints that Lady Macbeth and Macbeth had lost a child. Macbeth kills MacDuff's family perhaps out of spite and MacDuff's response is that he cannot get proper revenge, as Macbeth doesn't have a family. Perhaps the lack of children explains why Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are so ruthless, value status so highly and put so much energy into achieving the status that they crave so much. I think that Lady Macbeth probably resented being stuck in a castle all the time. By this I mean it would be hard not to have as much freedom as she would have done before she was married. Married women often felt constricted by their husbands and so she put all of her energy into herself and ambitions. This in itself wasn't wrong but she did it in such a way that she ended up taking the wrong path and pursuing the wrong kind of ambitions. She allowed herself to follow the route that led to murder and self-destruction whilst also leading Macbeth too. It is often down to the actor to interpret their character's actions and so Lady Macbeth is often portrayed in many different ways when performed. I believe Shakespeare intended Lady Macbeth to be a strong resolute woman eventually brought down by the pressure of experiencing ultimate power and then being eaten up by it. ...read more.

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