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With particular reference to the first two acts, explain why Lady Macbeth would have been such a horrific character for Shakespeare's audience .

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Matthew Arnold With particular reference to the first two acts, explain why Lady Macbeth would have been such a horrific character for Shakespeare's audience . Macbeth was written in 1606 for the Elizabethan and Jacobean audience at time when it was believed that a Natural Order existed within the universe and that the King was placed on the throne by God. One of the main reasons why Macbeth would have been so horrific for the audience, would be because she deliberately tries to disturb both the Natural Order and the Chain of Being. The first encounter that the audience realise how horrendous Lady Macbeth is, is when having read Macbeth's letter, she reacts shockingly and says, "Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here...make thick my blood...take milk for gall, you murdering ministers...come thick night." (1.VI. 36-50). She calls on the spirits to take control of her actions as well as to change the milk in her breasts to bile and remove from her everything that makes her a woman. ...read more.


However, he allows his wife to dominate him in order to suit her. The reason why he lets her do this is revealed in his letter where he says, "My dearest partner of greatness" (1.VI. 10). This is proof that he has a very strong bond with his wife and the reason why he allows himself to lose his loyalty to the King so easily. Lady Macbeth informs him to, "Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under't" (1.VI. 64-65) meaning to act trustworthy and kind when facing the King but to deceivingly plot against him in his head. She uses this method to deceive those around her very often. She also tells him to, "Leave the rest to me" (1.VI. 73). This shows that unlike other women of her time, Lady Macbeth shows that she has power over her husband. She orders Macbeth to "Go get some water and wash this filthy witness from your hand". Here Matthew Arnold Lady Macbeth proves that she has no care about what she has done. ...read more.


This proves that inside, she does Matthew Arnold have factors of concern and apprehension or she would not have hesitated to commit regicide. Shakespeare uses these signs of kindness to create a more horrendous character when the audience see her two faced personality. In Act 5, the audience see that Lady Macbeth has let the crime she has committed distress her and drive her to insanity. The doctor reveals that she has been sleepwalking. For the audience, this would have shown a seriously guilty conscience. The gentlewoman informs the doctor that Lady Macbeth has told her the secret but will not repeat it because it is too dreadful to be said but gives the excuse that she has, "no witness to confirm my speech" (5.1. 15-16). Altogether, if Lady Macbeth had have been a character in the twenty-first century, an audience of today most likely would not have been astonished and shocked by her mannerisms. It s because of the disturbance of Natural Order and the Chain of Being, which was the common belief in the seventeenth century that allowed lady Macbeth to be such a horrific character for Shakespeare's audience. ...read more.

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