As the play progresses their roles seem reversed to the audience and Lady Macbeth becomes more hesitant to their murderous plans. Macbeth, however, appears the more dominant in the relationship due to his newly gained kingship, which he is so desperate to keep. This is apparent in the quotation, “We have scorch’d the snake not kill’d it”. This metaphor used by Shakespeare shows that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth still have more challenges to face; although they have killed Dunacan, there are still other threats to Macbeth’s throne. This extract also shows Macbeth's paranoia and his desire to protect his nobility, despite the reluctance in act 1. Macbeth’s newly gained power over Lady Macbeth, is further seen in the quotation, “Be innocent of the knowledge my dearest chuck,”. In this quotation the audience sees Macbeth as patronising to wife, showing how he now thinks he is more knowledgeable and powerful than her, and that he does not need to discuss his plans with her. On the other hand, the phrase ‘dearest chuck’ could show Macbeth's affection towards his wife, despite the fact that Shakespeare shows he is slowly losing his humanity and empathy towards others. Another possible interpretation is that Macbeth wishes to not tell Lady Macbeth his plan concerning Banquo and Fleance’s demise, as he is afraid she would try to stop him or protect him. In contrast Shakespeare shows Lady Macbeth’s fear when she says: “You must leave this”, however Macbeth ignores her orders when he would have previously obeyed her commands. Overall from these extracts, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s characters have shown development. From his uncertainty of the plan to murder Duncan at of the opening of the play, Macbeth is taking his future into his own hands. Opposite to this Lady Macbeth now wants no further part in this business which she began at the beginning of the play.
In the denouement Macbeth becomes even more powerful and desperate to hang onto his ill-gotten crown, so much so that he shows little emotion towards his wife anymore. Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, shows remorse and guilt and subsequently dies. This is evident to the audience in the quotations: “Here’s the smell of blood still; all the perfumes of / Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. O, O, O.” and “She would have died hereafter”. The first quotation said by the character of Lady Macbeth is no longer in prose to show her insanity, of imagining Duncan’s blood on her hands. She also contrasts her previous lines of being able to wash the deed from her hands, “a little water clears us of this deed", by saying not even the sweetest perfume could now do so and that the stain on her hands is irremovable. It is ironic that Lady Macbeth should be overwhelmed by such remorse and guilt at this point in the play, as prior to Duncan’s assassination she had accused her husband of cowardice when he wished to cease their plot. In the second quote, proclaimed by Macbeth, it is evident to the audience that he now no longer cares about his wife and is only focused on the battle which is about to take place. His only concern is to maintain the power he has gained. Also his statement shows the fragility of life, which Shakespeare explores further through Macbeth's character in the ‘Out, Out’ monologue. Overall, at the end of the play, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s characters have drastically changed. Lady Macbeth can no longer be seen as courageous, hard-hearted and powerful, but instead a confused woman overwhelmed by regret and remorse, whereas Macbeth has become a heartless killer, despite his loyalty to the throne and disaprovance of Duncan’s assassination at the beginning of the play.
In conclusion, where Lady Macbeth can be seen as the most dominant in the relationship at the opening of the play and the initiator of their murderous intentions, to subservient to Macbeth and not wanting to continue with their plans, to a mad woman overwhelmed by remorse, Macbeth can be seen as constantly gaining more and more power throughout the play, to the point at which he no longer cares about his wife and shows little remorse after her death.
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