Feminism is the Source of Tragedy in Macbeth
Behind every successful man there is a ruthless woman pushing him along to gain her own personal successes. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lady Macbeth causes Macbeths downfall. With the faults and lies of Lady Macbeth, marriage is Macbeth’s big mistake. Lady Macbeth turns his courageous conquests on the fields of war into butchery. Mangled by the blood-spotted hands of his wife he becomes a traitor to himself, the people around him, and even her. In the beginning they both desire power and Lady Macbeths starts to put evil thoughts in her husband’s head.
Eventually Macbeth turns into a guiltless monster, which ironically causes Lady Macbeth’s downfall. Lady Macbeth’s life centers completely on her husband and there is a strong bond between the two (Thomson). Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth had a huge impact on their tragedies. They negatively thrive off each other’s actions and decisions. Ambition is an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment. Most of us would view ambition as a good quality to have.
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The problem is Macbeth is too ambitious, which causes him to do immoral things to get where he desires (Johnston). There is a big difference between ambition and greed. Macbeth is power hungry and he wants to be on top. Lady Macbeth wants the same for her husband, maybe even just a little bit more: A clearly intelligent and ambitious woman, Lady Macbeth’s role is completely determined by her husband’s. Without even a name of her own, the only way she can achieve power is if her husband attains it. Only with Macbeth as king can Lady Macbeth be queen (Ancona).
In the beginning Duncan rules the throne. But Macbeth is highly esteemed for his heroic and honorable service to the state. He was described by his fellow noblemen as a loyal soldier, giving all he has for his country (Hawkes). Duncan respects him for being such a good general: His conduct in war is spectacular. He is “brave Macbeth. He is impervious to fear when merely natural foes confront him. He is the soldier who will fight till from my bones my flesh will be hacked. Such a soldier command respect. There is nothing puny about him. Bernad) After the witches prophesy that Macbeth will be made thane of Cawdor and eventually king of Scotland, Macbeths begins to have some thoughts of murdering Duncan, but nothing serious. “Macbeth’s marriage is “fiendlike” of his queen. (Ancona). ” Lady Macbeth starts to become very manipulative. Lady Macbeth gives up her female status and position, in order to prepare her husband to take over the thrown. She even wishes she were a man, this way she could just do it herself. She views him as a man who is afraid of going for what he wants.
Lady Macbeth is a control freak. She becomes more dominant and assertive than her husband “Macbeth has too much of ordinary human nature in him to resort to crime without external stimulus, however Lady Macbeth teaches him how to hold back his natural self (Siegel). ” Lady Macbeth is completely out of her mind. At this point she will do anything to be queen. She says, “ I have given suck, and know/How tender tis’ to love the babe that milks me/ I would, while I was smiling in my face,/ Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums,/ And dashed the brains out. Here, Lady Macbeth is saying she would think nothing of bashing the brains out of her child if this is what it would take to get her crown of queen. Although Macbeth listens to the witches prophesy his biggest influence is Lady Macbeth. They love each other dearly. When you are in love you do not believe your significant other would make you do something that would be harmful to you. While reading Macbeth you can automatically assume Lady Macbeth has many psychological problems in her head. Macbeth does not take note of how insane his wife is. Lady Macbeth does not have an inch of guilt inside of her.
She is a driven woman, ready to prepare her husband on the path to power. She is not necessarily a bad person. You can conclude that she is blinded for ambition, “It is her blind ambition that, ironically, blinds her to the truth about herself, that she is advocating a marriage of deception, that she believes is not only virtuous but also a necessity to achieving ones ambition, the crown (Ancona). ” Lady Macbeth is conscience only of her desire to gain power, and pays little attention to the consequences that are sure to follower her selfish actions.
In order to control Macbeth’s guilt she says,” These deeds must not be thought. After these ways; so it will make us mad (Thomson). ” She starts to put ideas in Macbeth’s head, and attempts to make him heartless about murder. In one sense, Lady Macbeth fulfills her role as helpmate of her husband, although in an admittedly gruesome fashion. She attends her husband at the murder, eggs him one, and completes the task of incriminating the grooms by smearing them with blood, all of which is completely outside the guidelines of acceptable female behavior but is done to assist her husband. Ancona) Macbeth is easily tempted into murder by his wife to fulfill his ambitions to the throne. Once he stabs Duncan there is no stopping him. Macbeth then proceeds to kill Banquo, Fleance, Lady Macduff, and her children. Lady Macbeth only manipulated him to kill the king, but the decisions to kill Macduff and Banquo were his own. Banquo was his good loyal friend, after he killed him we know that he was out of his mind. Each person he has killed results in another that is needed to be killed. With every murder Macbeth makes he loses his mentality.
Macbeth’s conscience is deteriorated to nothing and his response to every problem is violence and murder. Then although not directly nor intentionally, he will cause the death of his wife: Lady Macbeth urging her husband to sin, appealing to his love for her with the words “from this time such I account they love” fatally unaware of the momentousness of the act and of the repercussion it will bring for them and their entire people is like the mother of mankind. (Hawkes) Lady Macbeth can surely be considered the reason behind Macbeth’s tragic downward spiral as a human being.
After all the murdering Macbeth starts to show major changes. He now feels no guilt for his wrongdoing: “Her monomaniacal ambition changes him into a monster, on—not so ironically—whose loyalty even she cannot control to the point where she is literally “awakened” by her blind and vaulting ambition to realize she did not want the kind of man she thought she wanted. ” (Ancona) Macbeth’s weak conscience was so easily molded. He has changed so much that all he can do now is embrace his new personality. His ambition and need for power put him through a transformation from hero to killer.
He even proceeds to say “blood will have blood,” after the entire massacre he has attempted (Ancona). Lady Macbeth no longer controls her husband. She enjoyed the power she had over him but now she realizes that he is on a different level. He has now become dead to all social feelings. The tables have turned and now Lady Macbeth is the guilty one: Macbeth is stepping up to the role he wanted but was afraid to kill for, and Lady Macbeth’s strength is no longer needed. A displaced person, she has no further role in the support of her husband and will revert to the more traditional feminine role. (Ancona) Lady Macbeth tries to avoid thinking about what she has done but her conscience literally eats her alive. She begins to understand the consequences of her actions, and goes slightly mad from these thoughts.
She can never be totally redeemed of her mortal sin, and realizes this (Johnston): When she realizes she has turned her husband into a caricature of pure evil, one who has lost all feeling and the ability to love or even display empathy, she awakens to her true self, the self she had been repressing, and the self that recoils in destructive anger. Ancona) Lady Macbeth starts to sleep walk, have horrific dreams, and she can no longer control the guilt. Unable to live the lie or face the truth, her only escape is death. At the end of the play Macbeth is completely alone. He is universally hated and has lost his wife and friends. All the desperate things he has done to become king did not pay off. Together Macbeth and Lady Macbeth both cause their downfalls. They have a huge influence on one another.
In the beginning Lady Macbeth convinces him to commit murder for power, once Macbeth is turned into a killing machine the guilt hits Lady Macbeth all at once which causes her suicide. At the end Macbeth is left with nothing and is killed by Macduff. Macbeth was most influenced by his wife, but once Lady Macbeth realized what she created it was a little too late. You can view Macbeth as a victim of overpowering feminine influence that characterizes the world around.