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The Ladies In Macbeth Essay

2985 words - 12 pages

The Ladies in Macbeth

 
     The audience finds in Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth the appearance of two natural women, and one of those only very briefly. Therefore this paper will present enlightenment of the role of Lady Macbeth mainly, and on the witches only briefly.

 

L.C. Knights in the essay "Macbeth" describes the unnaturalness in the thoughts and words of the plays dominant female force, Lady Macbeth:

 

Thus the sense of the unnaturalness of evil is evoked not only be repeated explicit references ("nature's mischief," "nature seems dead," " 'Tis unnatural, even like the deed that's done," and so on) but by the expression of unnatural sentiments and an unnatural violence of tone in such things as Lady Macbeth's invocation of the "spirits" who will "unsex" her, and her affirmation that she would murder the babe at her breast if she had sworn to do it. (95)

 

In Fools of Time: Studies in Shakespearean Tragedy, Northrop Frye shows that a lady is the actual driving force in the play:

 

That Macbeth is being hurried into a premature act by his wife is a point unlikely to escape the most listless member of the audience, but Macbeth comes to regret the instant of fatal delay in murdering Macduff, and draws the moral that

 

The flighty purpose never is o'ertook

Unless the deed go with it. From this moment

The very firstlings of my heart shall be

The firstlings of my hand.

 

That is, in future he will try to attain the successful ruler's spontaneous rhythm of action. (91)

 

Clark and Wright in their Introduction to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare contradict the impression that the female protagonist is all strength:

 

Lady Macbeth is of a finer and more delicate nature. Having fixed her eye upon the end - the attainment for her husband of Duncan's crown - she accepts the inevitable means; she nerves herself for the terrible night's work by artificial stimulants; yet she cannot strike the sleeping king who resembles her father. Having sustained her weaker husband, her own strength gives way; and in sleep, when her will cannot control her thoughts, she is piteously afflicted by the memory of one stain of blood upon her little hand.  (792)

 

In "Macbeth as the Imitation of an Action" Francis Fergusson enlightens the reader concerning the fears weakening Lady Macbeth:

 

 I do not need to remind you of the great scenes preceding the murder, in which Macbeth and his Lady pull themselves together for their desperate effort. If you think over these scenes, you will notice that the Macbeths understand the action which begins here as a competition and a stunt, against reason and against nature. Lady Macbeth fears her husband's human nature, as well as her own female nature, and therefore she fears the light of reason and the common daylight world. (108)

 

The Tragedy of Macbeth opens in a desert place with thunder and lightning and three...

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