Analysis of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in William Shakespeare's Play
"This dead butcher and his fiend-like queen"
Macbeth is a play of murder and witchcraft. Many actors when
performing it on stage are too superstitious to use the real name, and
call it " The Scottish play" instead believing that this way they will
avoid bad luck being brought on themselves. The quotation from
Malcolm's speech (V.ix.36) seems to portray Macbeth as a mindless
killer, and that it is his wife who is the scheming villain, who is
fiend-like, thus emphasising her link with the dark forces in the
play. I think that this is too simple a way to sum up two complicated
characters. Therefore I shall look at both Macbeth's and Lady
Macbeth's characters as they advance through the play and the other
characters that influence them before I draw any conclusions.
This play was written and produced by Shakespeare during the reign of
James I. We have to bear this in mind. Shakespeare was trying to
impress the king who was a descendant of Scottish royalty. In the play
Banquo represents King James' supposed ancestor. One of Shakespeare's
aims in writing the play was to show his support for the king and that
he was against the various uprisings which took place in James' reign.
At the start of the play Macbeth is a very strong and courageous
nobleman of the king. He is a ruthless warrior and loyal to his
country. These qualities are shown right at the beginning of the play
when in battle he bravely but violently killed the captain of the
other army: "he unseamed him from the nave to th'chaps."(I.ii.22). He
therefore receives the title of Thane of Cawdor. But this had been
foretold by the witches who also predicted that he would be king.
Macbeth does not think that he should do anything about making the
prophecy come true: "If Chance will have me king, why Chance may crown
me/ Without my stir." (I.iv.43-44). However, when King Duncan places
an extra obstacle in his way by naming his son, Malcolm, as his
successor, Macbeth realises that, if he is to be king, then he must
kill Duncan: "The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step/ On which I
must fall down, or else o'erleap/ For in my way it lies. Stars hide
your fires, / Let not light see my black and deep desires."
(I.iv.49-52). The end of that quotation is important to the audience
because it is the first real sign of Macbeth's evil thoughts.
When Lady Macbeth reads her Husband's letter she immediately believes
that Macbeth can be king (she sees that other predictions have already
been fulfilled). However she doubts that Macbeth has the particular
qualities to make it happen; "Yet I do fear thy nature/ It is too full
o'th'milk of human kindness/ To catch the nearest way. Thou would'st
be great,/ Art not without ambition, but without/ The illness should