How Lady Macbeth changes throughout the play

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                                                                 Shakespeare GCSE Coursework


                                                    How Lady Macbeth changes throughout the play                       

In Elizabethan times, Lady Macbeth would most definately have made a big impression to an audience watching this performance. The women who lived when Elizabeth I was on the throne were to keep a healthy family or to substain the well-being of a wealthy man. Lady Macbeth on the other hand was a woman of power, a bit like Elizabeth, or so it seemed........

We first meet Lady Macbeth in Act 1 scene 5 where she reads the letter she has recently recieved from Macbeth. It is immediately obvious that the couple are close. Macbeth addresses Lady Macbeth as

'my dearest partner of greatness' referring that they share their successes and do everything together. He says

'........what greatness is promised thee.' which shows that he is willing to share the things they are promised by the witches.

  As soon as Lady Macbeth hears about the riches that the witches had forseen, she says  

'Glamis thou art and Cawdor and shalt be/what thou art promised'  There is no doubt about it, Macbeth WILL be King. She doesnt ponder on what Macbeth might say or how it will be done, she knows that Macbeth can and will be King.

  When she hears that the current king, Duncan will be coming to their castle that evening, her first instincts are to kill him as she says to herself in Act 1 sc 5;

'..........The raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan......' (The raven croaking above a house was the sign that death was near.) This line makes Lady Macbeth seem a very murderous character.Although Lady Macbeth has made her mind up, she is also very worried that she cant do the deed without Macbeth's help. Lady Macbeth believes that he is ‘too full of the milk of human kindness’ to commit the murder and become king. She says that he is, ‘not without ambition, but without / The illness should attend it;’ in which Shakespeare shows this contrast between herself and Macbeth and her belief that he is weak and not evil enough to make the most of his ambition. So Lady Macbeth does the most she can by inviting the evil spirits to enter her. She says  

'Come, you spirits/That tend on mortal thoughts! unsex me here,/And fill me from the crown to the toe top full/Of direst cruelty;' Here she is saying that she wants all the spirits to come and take away all the traces of her femininity and make her as mentally strong as a man so that no kind feelings can get through and prevent her from murdering Duncan.This sounds like she is casting a spell and her language is black and witch-like as she calls on the spirits. Also what she is demanding - having her femininity and conscience removed - is completely unnatural and this is how the witches are seen by the audience.

  In this scene, Lady Macbeth is portrayed as a strong-willed, determined character. She is very ruthless and ambitious, and knows what she wants.

 When Macbeth arrives,  Lady Macbeth congradulates him on what the witches have forseen...maybe she isnt as bad as she seems... She then gets straight to the point. '....The future is instant' She is carried away with delight, and what has been promised has become real and actual to her. She doesnt hesitate to tell Macbeth her plans, so it shows that she isnt worried by what Macbeth might say and trusts him completely. She is also seen as the most dominant of the two, as she is the first to speak when he arrives, and doesn't let him speak until she has told him her plans. Lady Macbeth's 'And when goes hence?' can be interpreted in many ways, but it is most likely that Shakespeare has her trying to discover Macbeth's feelings and whether he is plotting to kill Duncan without actually asking him. Once Macbeth has given her the answer she does not want she makes it quite clear to him what she intends to do. Instead of saying, 'The sun may never see that morrow' she states it as a fact that Duncan will not survive the night, which makes it very difficult for Macbeth to disagree with her. She then says,  

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'look like the innocent flower, / But be the serpent under't.' which is an example of the recurring theme of the difference between appearance and reality. Again she makes it difficult for him to disagree by telling him to do something rather than suggesting it or asking. She is acting to move events forward as quickly as possible and now she has made up her mind she will not let anything get in the way of her ambition. She says, 'you shall put / This night's great business into my dispatch;' and when Macbeth tries to suggest that he does ...

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