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Macbeth is a play written by the famous playwright, William Shakespeare in 1606. This play was set in Scotland and features a variety of characters and themes. Shakespeare’s Macbeth illustrates two ordinary nobles whose lives are linked in a spiral of power and greed. Lady Macbeth’s character changes throughout the play. This essay will show her changes seen during the play. We are introduced to Lady Macbeth when she receives a letter from her husband, Macbeth.
The letter includes the meeting with 3 witches when he was on his way back to castle Foress. The witches greet Macbeth by his current title, Thane of Glamis, they then make two prophecies. The first prophecy is that his new title will be the Thane of Cawdor and the second is that he will become king. Soon after they meet, he is given the new title Thane of Cawdor. Lady Macbeth decides that she will do everything in her power to make him king. Lady Macbeth becomes extremely irrational from the beginning of the play to the end.
She pictures herself as a ruthlessness person and believes she can handle the evil that comes along with murder and deception. At the beginning of the play Lady Macbeth is seen as a dominant, controlling, heartless wife with an obsession to become royalty for her and her husband. Although she is supposed to be ruthless, her husband sees her as a good person that knows what is right. Even here we begin to see that Lady Macbeth has a very unstable mind.
She knows that Macbeth is a strong person and she must be stronger to convince him to go along with her. She pretends to be a determined and odd character which distances her and Macbeth from each other. At the beginning of the play Lady Macbeth believes Macbeth doesn’t have the “spirit” to “catch the nearest way”. Lady Macbeth intentionally tries to ignore the consequences of her deeds and instead plots to make sure Macbeth is the future king of Scotland. King Duncan decides to make a surprise appearance at Macbeth house; they then plot to murder him.
Lady Macbeth tells her husband to put the plan in motion, this shows her change in technique from being persuasive to being more intimidating and almost blackmailing Macbeth. The drive she had that made Macbeth do what she felt needed to be done is growing weaker. By the end of the play Lady Macbeth has lost self confidence by realising that most of the situation is her fault because she was so obsessed with power and greed. When Lady Macbeth starts to really feel guilty, everything collapses, including her husband. She then goes completely crazy and starts leepwalking. During her sleepwalking scene she shows remorse for the people she has hurt as she “takes on to her own soul” the blame of all the murders committed, even the ones she had nothing to do with. In conclusion, Lady Macbeth’s character slowly falls apart because of the fact that her strength is a lie, she tries to control her husband and she is involved in supernatural powers. Her want for an intimidating personality ended in her morals being destroyed. She is therefore seen as a fiend and I agree with this finding.
Author: Cari Minns
Macbeth, Lady Macbeth’s Character Change Throughout the Play.
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How Does Shakespeare Show a Change in Lady Macbeth
- Length: 728 words (2.1 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
Lady Macbeth is an extremely ambitious woman and wants more than anything for her husband, Macbeth, to be the next King of Scotland. When King Duncan announces that his son, Malcolm, is to be the next King, Duncan’s murder is planned. Lady Macbeth’s crucial role in the play is to persuade Macbeth to carry out the murder of Duncan. In the beginning she is ambitious, controlling and strong. However as the plot concludes there is an extreme change in her character and personality which surprises the audience. Lady Macbeth’s guilt eventually becomes too much for her to handle which leads to her death.
We are first introduced to Lady Macbeth at the beginning of Act 1, scene 5, through the letter that Macbeth sends her. This shows her to be his, ‘dearest partner of greatness’ and that he has no secrets from her. The witches’ prophecies intensify her ambitions for her husband, to be the King of Scotland. Lady Macbeth is the one who encourages him to kill the king and she not only encourages him, she makes all the plans herself. We see how clever she is and how she understands her husband well, she knows he has great ambitions, but she also knows that he is honourable and mentally weak:
“yet I do fear thy nature,
it is too full o’th milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great.
Art not without ambition, but without
The illness should attend it.”
She also knows that she will have to use all her powers of persuasion to control and manipulate Macbeth into the murder.
The audience is left in no doubt about Lady Macbeth’s determination when she asks the spirits to make her masculine ‘unsex me here’ and make her completely evil:
“And fill me from the crown to the toe topfull
of the direst cruelty, make thick my blood,
Stop up th’access and passage remorse”
She also asks them to give her the strength to kill Duncan, she just wants to get on and do it without feeling guilty. At the end of the scene she takes full control of the situation, and Macbeth seems glad to let her have the responsibility.
In Act 1, scene7 she really excel’s herself in how far she will go to manipulate Macbeth, to get her way. He not prepared for her rage when he announces his change of heart.
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She calls him a coward and insults his manliness for not following through with the murder and even announces, to the shock of the audience, that she would have murdered her baby while it was feeding at her breast rather than break such a promise. She is confident and persuasive. She assures him that he will succeed and her words convince Macbeth to murder Duncan.
When we get to Act 5, scene 1, what a stark contrast we see in Lady Macbeth’s character. In the beginning of the play she prayed to the spirits that she would have ‘no remorse’ and that she should have ‘no compunctious visitings of nature’ that might prevent her from murdering Duncan. We now find her sleepwalking and her mind is continually reliving the night of the murder. While she is sleepwalking she mumbles:
“Who would have thought that the old man would have had so much blood in him?”
Sleepwalking is a sign that the person feels guilty or worried about something. This makes Lady Macbeth seem weak and vulnerable.
On the night of the murder Lady Macbeth wanted it to be dark, ‘come thick night’ so that the darkness would cover up her evil deed. She also boldly declared that ‘A little water clears us of this deed.’ Now Lady Macbeth is completely overwhelmed by her evil deeds and is scared of the dark, ‘she has light by her continually.’ She is convinced that her hands are stained with blood that cannot be washed off. She agitates that “all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.” Lady Macbeth is saying that nothing can reverse or change what she has done.
We later find out that she kills herself ‘by self and violent nature.’
Lady Macbeth started as a strong and powerful person and through controlling Macbeth and his conscience she lost control of her mind and conscience to become insane with guilt and finally commits suicide.