Essay on Lady Macbeth Character Analysis


In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the character of Lady Macbeth develops immensely different over the course of the play. Lady Macbeth’s character is an ambitious and cunning individual who provoked her husband, Macbeth, into committing regicide in order for them to inherit the throne, making her an accomplice in murder. On behalf of the deed that was implemented, she pushed aside her humanity and relied on her searing ambition to be queen alongside her husband. Notwithstanding, the pace of the murder was too much for Lady Macbeth’s morals to handle and she faced a feeling of guiltiness. Lady Macbeth’s initial desire for Macbeth’s claim of the throne and her mentally deranged state that leads to her suicide reveals that she was manipulative who became guilt ridden by the murder of Duncan.

The relationship of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth was something out of the ordinary at this time period. Macbeth would often come to Lady Macbeth and seek advice on certain topics that stumble him. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth received a prophecy from the witches and Lady Macbeth was the first person he talked to. The prophecy claimed that Macbeth would be king and Lady Macbeth began to wish that the prophecy come true. Lady Macbeth began to persuade him into killing Duncan so that he could take his place in the throne. On account of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth constructs what she believes to be the perfect murder revealing her intelligence and cunning nature. Macbeth begins to become reluctant on whether he should or should not kill Duncan but Lady Macbeth will not allow him to back down from the task. She begins to belittle his manhood, declaring that “Art thou afeared/ To be the same in thine own act and valor/ As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that/ Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life,/ And live a coward in thine own esteem,/ Letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would,” (1.7 39-44). Lady Macbeth questions Macbeth’s character, saying “Art thou afeared/ To be the same in thine own act and valor/ As thou art in desire?” asking him if he is too afraid to act upon his desires, showing her interrogating his manhood. Lady Macbeth words it to manipulate him into rethinking his decisions, hence her use of tactics to demean his masculinity. Lady Macbeth proceeds to question his character through saying “Wouldst thou have that/ Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life,/ And live a coward in thine own esteem,/ Letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would” still using manipulative tactics to get into his head. Hence why Lady Macbeth refers to the throne as an “ornament of life” referencing that it is something of value that Macbeth needed to take account for. Lady Macbeth calls Macbeth a ‘coward’ to ramp up his emotions so that he can take action into completing the deed. She is emotionally manipulating him by coming for his character. Lady Macbeth ingloriously says that Macbeth would have to live a failure knowing that he backed out from doing what he desired to do because he was afraid. Lady Macbeth is very intelligent and uses manipulative tactics to persuade Macbeth into killing Duncan.

Not so long after Duncan’s murder, everything begins to crumble for Lady Macbeth do to her feeling guilt-ridden. Her marriage begins to weaken from the lack of communication that she shares with Macbeth. They both have received different placements in the throne and must attend to those demanding jobs. During this time, Lady Macbeth tries to conceal her guilt from being an accomplice in murder. She tries to keep a collected face in the day but during the night she begins to spiral out of control and lose her sanity. She begins to think about Duncan’s murder constantly which began to take over her mind and her emotions causing her to have nightmares.  During one of her nightmares, Lady Macbeth is seen yelling “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!—One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him.” (5.1 35-40) revealing a sense that Lady Macbeth can no longer distinguish fantasy from real life. The “spot” she is referring to is the imaginary blood of Duncan that she sees on her hands from the murders. In spite of not participating in the actual murder, her subconscious brain makes it seem as if she did, revealing her feelings of immorality. Lady Macbeth’s play on words was used in a way to reveal her subconscious feelings. She announces that “hell is murky” revealing how she already feels like she’s trapped in a hell-like state that is immensely somber. Despite the fact that she was dreaming, Lady Macbeth still felt the need to display a sense of dominance and “masculinity” over Macbeth, telling him “fie, my lord, fie! A soldier and afeared” which reveals how he should “man up” and not be afraid because he’s a “soldier.” Moreover, Lady Macbeth does not seem to show concern for herself which discloses how she is starting to regret the actions taken place. Lady Macbeth apathetically says that “what need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account” she is acknowledging that people are starting to realize the deeds that they had done but they were not bold enough to step up to them because they had power. That power gave her a sense of comfort for a little but soon washed away. She notes that “who would have thought the old man to have so much blood” which conversely contradicts her last statement. Lady Macbeth is confessing to being apart of the Duncan murder and is showing a sign of worry. Lady Macbeth’s nightmare goes so deep that she begins to hallucinate about the “Smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, Oh, Oh!” (5.1 49-51). Lady Macbeth’s brain is playing tricks on her, telling her that the “smell of the blood” still is lingering on her. Lady Macbeth begins to grasp that “All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand” and her position in the murder will forever be with her. Lady Macbeth could no longer withhold the guilt from being an accomplice in murder, so she decided to find peace by killing herself.

Lady Macbeth transforms from a powerful ambitious woman who would persuade her husband to kill for power into a mentally ill woman who is overwhelmed by guilt. Lady Macbeth utilizes intimidating phrases to push Macbeth to receiving the title of king in the throne. When Lady Macbeth puts her ambition and drive to make Macbeth’s happiness her happiness, it ultimately fails her. Lady Macbeth wanted the best for her marriage but it ended up causing her to lose herself and her sanity. She began to lose her control of herself and it was shown at night, when she was most vulnerable.  Lady Macbeth could no longer bare to live with the guilt so she decided to find peace in death, revealing a sense of morality.

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