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Write an essay, which focuses on the character of Lady Macbeth as presented in act five, scene one and the scenes leading up to the murder of King Duncan.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

GCSE Coursework Assignment English: Reading in the English Literary Heritage-response to Shakespeare English Literature: Drama pre-1914 Macbeth Write an essay, which focuses on the character of Lady Macbeth as presented in act five, scene one and the scenes leading up to the murder of King Duncan. In act five, scene one the audience sees one of the many facets of Lady Macbeth's complex character as she is seen to be sleepwalking, while being carefully observed by her waiting gentlewoman and a doctor of physic. Her gentlewoman introduces this deranged behaviour, when she says, "Lo you, here she comes. This is her guise and, upon my life, fast asleep." There are many possibilities to be explored that could be found to be the impetus bringing Lady Macbeth to sleepwalk. The first being that in Shakespeare's time a person found to be sleepwalking meant that evil spirits and demons possessed them. Lady Macbeth played a forceful role in the scheming, leading up to the murder of Duncan and was heavily involved in the event itself. In act two, scene two; exasperated with Macbeth, Lady Macbeth takes the daggers to smear Duncan's blood on his servants' faces. The sight of Duncan's blood has had a profound effect on her and in act five, scene one this becomes apparent when she says in her sleep, " Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him." In saying this line she is remembering and reflecting on the moment of when she placed the bloody daggers next to the guards. She is thinking about how much Duncan bled. The image of Duncan's blood on the daggers and on her hands has stuck in her mind and is plaguing her thoughts, so much so that she is desperate to be cleansed. The crime is lying very heavily on her conscience and her heart and she longs to be cleansed of the blood, which is symbolic of her guilt at the deeds she has committed. ...read more.

Middle

Macbeth's arrival is signalled by a drum, "A drum, a drum; Macbeth doth come." Says the third witch. As Macbeth enters for the first time in the play, with fellow warrior Banquo, his initial words are, "So foul and fair a day I have not seen." Immediately this establishes a connection between Macbeth and the witches, as their lines in the opening scene were, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair." Also the witches are called the we�rd sisters, and in Anglo-Saxon mythology, we�rd sisters were the goddesses of destiny who predicted the future. When Macbeth and Banquo enter they are puzzled as to what these beings are with such a revolting appearance, Banquo describes them, "So withered and so wild in their attire, that look not like th'inhabitants o'th'earth. Each at once her choppy finger laying upon her skinny lips; you should be women and yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so." What happens next is very significant for the rest of the play. The witches' prophecy about Macbeth and his future and then at his request, Banquo, " All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis. Thane of Cawdor. That shalt be king hereafter." They predict that Macbeth will have these titles and that Banquo's descendants will be kings, but he himself will not. "Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none." Then refusing to answer Macbeth's questions the witches vanish in front of Macbeth and Banquo, leaving them shocked, bewildered and discombobulated. The witches come to Macbeth at exactly the right moment and place to shock him. He is fresh from the killings at the battle and his raw ambition is hungry for greater things. The witches introduce these things to him by speaking his innermost thoughts and tempting him with his own aspirations and predilections. Macbeth and Banquo are both left to reflect on what the witches have just said to them and to try to make some sense of it when Ross enters, telling ...read more.

Conclusion

This is another facet of her character shown, as we start to see her humane side exposed and vulnerable. Following this Macbeth returns to Lady Macbeth to say he has completed the murder in a terrible state of remorse and fear of what will punish him of the crime he has just committed. "Wherefore I could not pronounce 'Amen'? I had most need of blessing, and 'Amen' stuck in my throat." He is obsessively panicky because he cannot say 'Amen'. It is then, that Lady Macbeth regains control of the situation and transforms into an iron willed woman again in order to hold Macbeth together. She says to him in an ironic and impatient manner, dismissing his hallucinations of a voice crying he had murdered sleep, "These deeds must not be thought after these ways; so, it will make us mad." It is then when she sees that Macbeth has brought the bloody daggers back from the scene of the murder that she implicates herself and gets further involved with the murder; Macbeth refuses to return the daggers so she says, "Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead are but as pictures; 'tis the eye of childhood that fears a painted devil. If he do bleed, I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal, for it must seem their guilt." From this point onwards Lady Macbeth and Macbeth's relationship starts to change as they drift apart emotionally and physically. Their personas are dramatically reversed as Lady Macbeth who was once an iron willed, passionate, ambitious woman becomes extremely deranged and depressed. Her character develops and changes throughout the play as she is transformed from an ambitious, powerful woman to someone is full of regret and with a heart full of foreboding, which lies very heavily on her conscience. Paradoxically, Macbeth's characteristics, his strong sense of morals and fairplay and a clear conscience are replaced with a tyrant personality and where little or no remorse at the taking of other people's lives. ...read more.

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