Comparison of Lady Macbeth and Curley's Wife

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Lady Macbeth

Both texts present women with regard to their relationships with their husbands. In Macbeth, this is no more clear than in Act 1 Scene 5, when Macbeth refers to his wife, Lady Macbeth, as his “dearest partner of greatness”. The use of the word “dearest” shows Macbeth love and respect for his wife and the use of “partner” shows he treats her as his equal, which supersedes the common role of women in Jacobean Scotland, particularly in positions of high standing. However, this equality between Macbeth and his wife may be the first glimpse at Lady Macbeth’s power over her husband which becomes further apparent later on in the scene.

Lady Macbeth is often thought to have great power over her husband and this is shown in Lady Macbeth’s monologue in Act 1 Scene 5. Lady Macbeth is well aware of Macbeth’s weakness. She states that he is “Yet I do fear thy nature, too full o’ the milk of human kindness” which refers to her doubt surrounding his ability to kill King Duncan, a plot that she has formed whilst reading Macbeth’s letter to her. This sentence shows her acknowledgement of his abilities, but it also shows Lady Macbeth’s discontent, “too full o’ the milk of human kindness” shows she believes Macbeth is unable to carry out her plan.

Furthermore, in Act 1 Scene 5 Lady Macbeth and Macbeth share their first on-stage dialogue. This first meeting between them is important because it contains some of the most important details about their relationship. One such detail is the ability of Lady Macbeth to read her husband’s face “as a book, where men may read strange matters”. The phrase “strange matters” in this sentence is important because it shows that she can tell what Macbeth’s facial expressions mean and how to interpret them which means she knows her husband well and, most importantly, how to manipulate him for her own nefarious purposes.

Another example of the complexity of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth's relationship is when Lady Macbeth urges her husband to kill King Duncan. “Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower But be the serpent under’t” shows Lady Macbeth’s manipulative nature in order to subvert King Duncan’s rule and put herself and Macbeth in power. However, this sentence contains yet another, less obvious meaning, it draws clear parallels with the story of the Garden of Eden, in which a wife urges her husband to do something after being manipulated. I believe it was Shakespeare’s goal to showcase Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as a perfect couple, like Adam and Eve, who get betrayed by their own lust for power, a clear analogy for the forbidden fruit, and challenge King Duncan’s divine right as a king, another piece of religious imagery showing God’s only commandment to Adam and Eve.

A further example of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s complex relationship is in Act 1 Scene 4, when Lady Macbeth states "I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, and dashed the brains out, had I sworn, as you have done to this." This shows that she believes she is stronger than her husband, and also how easy he is to manipulate in her eyes. It shows that Lady Macbeth is just using Macbeth as a puppet so that she can control the throne. Lady Macbeth exerts her power over Macbeth through this manipulation, and this only becomes more evident later in the play.
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Both texts present their female characters as powerful. The first instance in which this is displayed in Shakespeare's Macbeth is in Act 1 Scene 5, in which Lady Macbeth asks malevolent spirits to remove her womanly attributes so she has the cruelty and cunning to kill King Duncan and rise to the position of Queen. The clearest display of her power is when she calls the “spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here”. The use of the imperative “come” shows the commanding nature of her tone and her ability to subvert others, paranormal or otherwise, to ...

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