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The Character Of Macbeth In William Shakespeare's Play

2433 words - 10 pages

The Character of Macbeth in William Shakespeare's Play

The Task: Discuss Shakespeare’s presentation of Lady Macbeth in Act 1
Scene 5 and Act 5 Scene 1 of ‘Macbeth.’ Account for the changes and
differences you notice and suggest how a contemporary as well as a
modern audience might respond to these scenes.

Shakespeare’s shortest and bloodiest tragedy, Macbeth tells the story
of a brave Scottish general (Macbeth) who receives a prophecy from a
trio of sinister witches that one day he will become king of Scotland.
Consumed with ambitious thoughts and urged to action by his wife,
Macbeth murders King Duncan and seizes the throne for himself. He
begins his reign wracked with guilt and fear and soon becomes a
dictatorial ruler, as he is forced to commit more and more murders to
protect him from hate and suspicion. The bloodbath swiftly propels
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to arrogance, madness, and death.

Macbeth’s wife is a deeply ambitious woman who desires for power and
position. Early in the play she seems to be the stronger and more
ruthless of the two, as she urges her husband to kill Duncan and seize
the crown. After the bloodshed begins, however, Lady Macbeth falls
victim to guilt and madness to an even greater degree than her
husband. Her conscience affects her to such an extent that she
eventually commits suicide. Interestingly, she and Macbeth are
presented as being deeply in love, and many of Lady Macbeth’s speeches
imply that her influence over her husband is primarily sexual. Their
joint disaffection from the world, occasioned by their partnership in
crime, seems to strengthen the attachment that they feel to each
another.

Lady Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most famous and frightening
female characters. When we first see her, she is already plotting
Duncan’s murder, and she is stronger, more ruthless, and more
ambitious than her husband. She seems fully aware of this and knows
that she will have to push Macbeth into committing murder. Lady
Macbeth shares her fear in a soliloquy, saying that her husband may
be, ‘It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest
way.’ Lady Macbeth is admitting that her husband is to kind to commit
this murder. Lady Macbeth is stating to the audience that she has the
physical and mental capabilities to carry out her cunning and
power-hungry plan unlike her husband who is too pathetic and fragile.
Lady Macbeth’s language is indicating that she is more masculine to
Macbeth.

To aid her, she calls upon the dark spirits, as if praying to them,
like the witches. She begs the "murdering ministers" to "unsex" her
(much as the three evil witches seemed both male and female) and make
her strong enough to murder King Duncan. She also asks them to make
her blood thick against remorse and regret and to make the night dark
...

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