Lady Macbeth As a Fiend-Like Queen
Lady Macbeth has weaknesses which are hidden by a strong exterior. Her
ambitions overpower her worries and doubts about behaving and acting
in a diabolical way. This makes her initially seem evil or
“fiend-like”. Yet she has different strands to her character. By the
end of the play, however, the better side of Lady Macbeth’s character
surfaces. She is so overcome by her sense of guilt over the murders
that she commits suicide. On balance therefore although she has some
fiend-like qualities she cannot be described as totally fiend-like.
When we first see Lady Macbeth, she is reading a letter, from her
husband, which encloses the predictions that the witches foretold for
Macbeth. The prophecy is that Macbeth will be King. She promptly
decides on Duncan’s murder to fulfil the prophecy,
“Glamis thou art,
And shalt be what thou are promised”.
She makes it apparent that she will do anything for the prophecy to be
fulfilled because of the emphasis on “shalt be”.
When Lady Macbeth learns that Duncan is on his way to the castle she
calls on the evil spirits to make her callous so that she can carry
out the murder of Duncan. She requests them to
“..........unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty”.
This suggests that she is not entirely or completely evil because she
needs the assistance of the spirits to help her overcome any
Other than her own feminine weakness, the only thing hindering
Macbeth’s becoming King is Macbeth himself and the frailties of his
character. She realises that he might have reservations or compunction
about killing the King.
“Yet I do fear thy nature
It is too full o’th’milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way”.
She is obviously aware that her husband may be too hesitant to be
involved in killing his King. She decides she must manipulate him into
believing as she does. She knows she can do this by playing on his
conceit and reputation as a brave man. She resolves to
“….. Pour my spirits in thine ear,
And chastise with the valour of my tongue”.
This indicates her confidence in her power to persuade him.
These manipulative and persistently persuasive powers are displayed
when Macbeth says he is not going to go ahead with the murder. She
calls him a coward and tells him that his love is worth nothing to her
if he doesn’t proceed with the murder.
"From this time
Such I account thy love"
This means his love is as worthless as a broken promise. She goes on
to compare his determination to her own and how she herself is capable
of committing murder. Even if it involved her own baby, she would have
"…...plucked my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dashed the brains out".
This is a...