The Evils of Macbeth in William Shakespeare's Macbeth
The question that I have been given is to evaluate Shakespeare's
characterization of Lady Macbeth and to decide on an correct
description of her character, as I think Shakespeare intended it to be
- is she a cruel, calculating, cold blooded killer; or is she just a
confused and distraught lonely woman?
Throughout the play, she shows qualities and performs actions that
point to both of these possible outcomes, and I, through searching the
book and picking up all possible leads (all quotes in Italics), will
attempt to decide on which of these Lady Macbeth really is and if
possible why she might have been this way.
The first scene that Lady Macbeth appears in is Act 1 scene 5. In the
beginning of this scene, we are inside a room in Macbeth's castle, and
she is reading a letter that we think she has just got from Macbeth.
The letter tells her of his victory in battle, and of his meeting with
the witches and their predictions.
When she has finished reading the letter, she begins to show the
audience the darker side of her character.
She begins by picking on the 'good' aspects of Macbeth's character,
and criticises him for being "â€¦too full o' the milk of human
This means that she thinks of Macbeth as being too soft at heart to do
what she believes is correct, as he feels it is incorrect. However,
she does use mothering terms when describing kindness. This reference
to motherhood repeats later on, and may be hinting at something deeper
in her character that is never actually directly shown . She backs up
this idea straight away with the lines "â€¦though wouldst be great; art
not without ambition; but without so the illness should attend itâ€¦"
This tells us again that she believes Macbeth too good and kind to
achieve greatness by evil, referring to evil as "the illness".
Already, Shakespeare has made the reader or audience wary of Lady
Macbeth and led them to think about her motives, even though she has
only spoken for 7 lines. The idea of first impressions being of the
most important would lead us to feel that Lady Macbeth is evil. This
is a good idea, as it has put the audience in the classic position
where their first impressions will soon be changed by later events,
therefore confusing them, and helps to give Lady Macbeth's character
far greater depth.
As Lady Macbeth continues to speak, it shows her thinking of Macbeth
as being weak willed. She also lets the audience know that she is
utterly convinced that it is Macbeth's destiny to be the King of
Scotland, and backs up both of these ideas with the lines "â€¦ and
chastise with the valour of my tongue all that impedes thee from the
Golden Round, which both fate and metaphysical aid doth seem to have
thee crown'd withal"
When she says...