Essay, Research Paper: Macbeth

Shakespeare: Macbeth

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During Shakespearean times, women were regarded as delicate little creatures who
were there to give birth and look pretty. They were not thought to be smart or
equal to men. Though in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth serves as
the main influence in Macbeth’s life. He trusts her with everything he has.
She is, after all, his “dearest partner of greatness.” (I, v, 13) The
relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is different from others of
Shakespearean time. Though he is the man, he often consults his wife before he
does anything. In the beginning of the play, when the witches tell Macbeth of
his promising future, Lady Macbeth is the first person he writes to. Upon
hearing the witch’s prophecy, Lady Macbeth wishes it to be true in hopes that
she will become queen. Immediately, the audience realizes the evils of Lady
Macbeth. She asks the spirits to “unsex [her] here and fill [her] from the toe
top-full of Direst Cruelty!” (I, v, 41-43) Lady Macbeth wants to become bold
enough to persuade her husband to kill Duncan. Once Lady Macbeth puts the idea
of murdering the King in Macbeth’s head, she begins to plan the murder. Lady
Macbeth is very direct and intelligent. She plans what looks like a perfect
murder. Even though she appears to be rather bold, it is obvious to the audience
that she is not very brave. She wants to be crowned just as much as Macbeth, if
not more, but she doesn’t have the guts to stab the King. Once the King
arrives at Macbeth’s castle, Lady Macbeth does what she tells her husband to
do. She is a terrific actress and “Look[s] like th’innocent flower but be
the serpent under ‘t.” (I, v, 65-66) This also shows Lady Macbeth’s
intelligence. When Macbeth thinks further about killing the King, he decides
that he has too many reasons not to do it. Macbeth believes that the only good
reason to murder the King is his ambition. Ambition is also Lady Macbeth’s
only reason for wanting to become queen. When Macbeth tells the Lady of the
change in plans, she immediately launches and attack on his manhood. She calls
him a coward and says that she would murder her own baby if she had promised to
do so. Lady Macbeth uses a very smart tactic here in trying to persuade Macbeth.
She goes for the one thing she knows men have trouble proving: their manhood.
When Macbeth does as little as question her plan, she attacks him again, telling
him to “screw [his] courage to the sticking place...” (I, vii, 61) This
method was successful in persuading Macbeth to murder the king. This scene shows
that Lady Macbeth is very powerful in this relationship. She is able to change
the thane’s mind even when he clearly stated “We will proceed no further in
this business.” (I, vii, 32) In the scene after the killing is done, the
audience sees how calm and clear Lady Macbeth is. This event doesn’t seem to
affect her very much. Her husband, on the other hand, is the total opposite. He
forgot to place the daggers in the drunken guards hands and refused to go back.
Lady Macbeth fearlessly grabs the daggers and returns them. He says strange
things about his bloody hands and doesn’t think rationally. Lady Macbeth
calmly tells Macbeth to wash his hands and tells him to put on their nightgowns
and go to bed. Lady Macbeth also shows how responsible she is in the banquet
scene after the murder of Banquo. She calmly tells the lords that Macbeth is
simply ill and tells them to leave when she sees that things may be getting out
of hand. After this scene, Lady Macbeth doesn’t seem to have much to do with
the play anymore. This is because of the change in the relationship of her and
her husband. Macbeth is acting on his own accord now. He decides on his own to
kill Banquo. When Lady Macbeth asks about this, he replies simply, “Be
innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck...” (III, ii, 48) Macbeth also
doesn’t consider her when he decides to return to the witches and to kill
Macduff’s household. From what has happened in the play so far, the audience
doesn’t see any good in Lady Macbeth. Later in the play, however, the murders
do appear to have an affect on Lady Macbeth. The murders having an affect on her
may not count as goodness, but that is as close as it gets with her. She
sleepwalks and is bothered by her bloody hands. Lady Macbeth, no longer able to
stand it, kills herself. Lady Macbeth is a major figure in this play. She is
evil and very intelligent. She is Macbeth’s other half. Without her, who knows
if Macbeth would have become king of Scotland? She is able to change the whole
play because of her authority over Macbeth.
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