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The Ways In Which Lady Macbeth Moves From A Position Of Strength To One Of Final Despair

1189 words - 5 pages

The Ways in Which Lady Macbeth Moves from a Position of Strength to One of Final Despair

In William Shakespeare's tragic play, "Macbeth," Lady Macbeth
undergoes dramatic changes in her character. At the start of the play,
she is far stronger than any of Shakespeare's other female characters,
such as Viola and Olivia from "Twelfth Night" and Juliet Capulet from
"Romeo Juliet." She is, in fact stronger than most stereotypical women
of Shakespeare's time, and those of the time in which "Macbeth" was
set. However, just before her death, she is transformed into a shadow
of the dominant woman that she was before, plagued by guilt, and
haunted by the murderous secrets of her past.

Her first appearance involves a long soliloquy in which she quickly
shows her cunning and her hunger for power. She knows that she is
stronger than her husband as he could be persuaded to do anything that
she told him to. "I may pour my spirits into thine ear and chastise
thee with the valour of my tongue," she says, which shows that she
could, and actually does, spearhead the murders that Macbeth later
carries out.

Within a very short time, Lady Macbeth has already begun to plan King
Duncan's "fatal entrance" to her home, Dunsinane Castle. She uses
clever metaphors and double meanings when first introducing the idea
of murder to Macbeth, such as "O never shall sun that morrow see," and
"look like th'innocent flower, but be the serpent under't." These
could have been used because announcing her plans directly may have
made the suggestion sound much worse both to Macbeth, and to herself,
or it may have been that she is simply being secretive with her words.

Throughout the play, Lady Macbeth proves herself to be a great
actress. Having made her plans to murder Duncan, she again uses double
meanings, producing dramatic irony for the audience, as they are aware
of her plans and Duncan is not. She talks to her intended victim,
describing that the honours of having him in her home are "deep and
broad," which could also be referring to the knife wounds that she
intends for him to have after his murder. After the murder, she again
shows her acting skills, when pretending to be innocent and shocked
when she is told of the killing of the king, and later faints to
distract attention from her husband before he is able to give them
away. She is, in this way, clever, as she lets strangers see a pure
and perfect wife of a hero, but in soliloquies and when in private
with her husband, she shows an cruel, corrupt and yet loving woman.

The first cracks in her strong façade appear when she is talking about
the murder. "Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had
done't," she says, showing that her original intention was to kill
Duncan herself, but she was not quite evil enough to carry it out.
Just a few lines...

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