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Relationship Between Spouses In Macbeth By William Shakespeare

1173 words - 5 pages

In William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are initially portrayed as an intimate and caring couple. In the beginning, the infatuated Macbeth puts his wife on a pedestal (which is unusual in Jacobean the era) and continuously addresses her with words of endearment. Lady Macbeth on the other hand appears to be stronger willed and more decisive, focusing solemnly on murdering Duncan. However, as the play progresses the audience witness surprising changes in the relationship. The guilt from murdering Duncan torments and disintegrates Lady Macbeth, making Macbeth the stronger of the two. Eventually Macbeth becomes so unattached from his wife that her failing mental health, or even her death, fails to rekindle his affections for her.
Our initial glimpse of Macbeth and Lady Macbeths’ relationship, through Macbeth’s letter in Act 1 Scene 5, not only reveals that they have an affectionate relationship, but more significantly that they have an equal relationship with complete trust in each other. In his letter, Macbeth describes Lady Macbeth as his ‘dearest partner of greatness’. Referring to her as his ‘dearest’ shows his love and desire for her and the word ‘partner’ expresses his respect for her- at this stage she is his greatest confidant. By including the witches’ prophecies Macbeth, is showing great trust in his wife as this content is treasonous. It is ironic that Macbeth calls Lady Macbeth his ‘partner of greatness’ because when he eventually achieves ‘greatness’ by becoming the King, he isolates himself from her and no longer treats her as his ‘partner’. It is also evident that Lady Macbeth has the upper hand in the relationship being able to manipulate Macbeth’s decisions. When Macbeth finally decides that they ‘shall proceed no longer’ in murdering Duncan, Lady Macbeth manages to persuade him into changing his mind by accusing him of not being ‘manly’. This shows how Lady Macbeth knows her husband’s weaknesses thoroughly and by exploiting these she can influence his actions. At this point the relationship is intense with Macbeth appearing to be inspired and excited in being Lady Macbeth’s ‘partner’ in crime.
In Act 2 Scene 3 when the murder of Duncan has been found out, we witness Macbeth becoming more independent and spontaneous in his actions. Macbeth, in his ‘fury’, kills Duncan’s guards who have been framed of the murder. Unlike before when he desperately consulted with Lady Macbeth (before murdering Duncan), he kills the guards on his own will. It appears that he has lost his dependence on his wife and also the good conscience he displayed in Act 1. The murder of Duncan has weakened the link between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. However there are still signs of affection and care in relationship. Although shocked by Macbeth’s action, Lady Macbeth...

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