Had it not been for Lady Macbeth’s intervention

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I think that Lady Macbeth had a huge part to play in the murder of Duncan even though it was not her own hands that committed the crime. Her persuasion and interference cause Macbeth to go ahead with the murder. Macbeth was persuaded by Lady Macbeth to murder Duncan as she claimed it was the only way he would be able to excel as higher than his status at that time. She called him a coward and a bad excuse for a man. This therefore made Macbeth feel uneasy and under pressure from the person he loved most in life. His constant feeling of unease was the decider for killing Duncan. An act which from the eyes of Lady Macbeth was heroic. However, Macbeth was most scared by his actions whereas Lady Macbeth stayed stronger to begin with. Power and his ambitions took over his mind.

Lady Macbeth is portrayed as a very controversial character. The audiences of Shakespeare�s time believed strongly in witchcraft and the world of magic, so this play should have been well received. The bard would have known this and intended to make Lady Macbeth into a person who the audiences could take pleasure in watching. I personally believe that there is no straight answer to this question, as she appears to change dramatically during the course of the text.

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When we first come into contact with Lady Macbeth, she is reading a letter from Macbeth. She seems to be obsessed by the predictions of the three weird sisters, and then is concerned that Macbeth is not strong enough to capture what has been predicted to him; �too full of the milk of human kindness� This shows us that she is a very dogmatic and ruthless person, who is wiling to devour the faults of her own husband in an effort to feed her appetite for power. The idea of �milk� is also an interesting one, as this is what we suckle our children on, and children will play a more important role in the text later.

Later in Act 1 Scene 5, she stands on the battlements, and decides to summon the devil and the spirits of hell into her; �Come you spirits� unsex me here� This also shows that she wants the spirits to cleanse her of her innocence, and grant her the conviction to help her husband seize his opportunity to achieve kingship. This would have been a supremely powerful image in the play when it was performed in front of Shakespearean audiences, as the beliefs of the time were much more receptive of witches, hell, and the supernatural. In addition to this, the use of the word �unsex� is one that promotes the idea of her not being female anymore, as she has removed all of her female traits. This could lead to the concept that she cannot actually be a �fiend-like queen� because she is not a woman.

Further on in this soliloque, she speaks of being filled with �direst cruelty�, which portrays her as a fiend, as she wants to be filled with malice. The idea of the word direst is an emotive one, as it gives the impression that it is the last resort, and the only option. This would represent her as a narrow minded individual, with intent to do evil. I see this as Lady Macbeth�s way of trying to use evil to remove her remorse, because she isn�t a fiend like queen yet. I believe that if she were a fiend like queen, then she would not need to call spirits unto her to strengthen her resolve.

I think that she becomes a fiend like queen when she has finished the soliloquy, and that this is because she has been filled with spirits of the underworld. She greets Macbeth as: �Great Glamis, worthy Cawdor�, this displays avariciousness as a character trait of his wife. She appears greedy because he has just returned from a great war, and merely greets him in an ecstatic way by his titles, and does not even refer to his name, or the fact that he is her husband.

Macbeth tells her that Duncan is coming to spend the night at their castle, and immediately the demons within her react, and plan for the �fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements� she spoke of in her soliloquy. The other point of note in this quotation is the possessive used to describe the battlements. She makes it clear that they are her battlements, and that she is the powerful side of the marriage with Macbeth, that she is in control. This would have been unusual in Shakespearean times, as it was common belief that the women were second class citizens, and that they were the property of their fathers until they were married, when they were handed over to their husband. It would have been almost ironic that one of the strongest men physically, a great man of war, was incredibly overpowered by what would have been seen as �just a fragile woman�.

Lady Macbeth uses several euphemisms to describe the murder. I believe that this shows her newfound fiendlike qualities, because she does not want to appear full-fronted towards the murder, but she wants to use Macbeth by persuading him. She would not be able to do this if she was forthcoming and pleaded him, so she has to resort to subversive and manipulative means.

Lady Macbeth is portrayed as a powerful woman in two ways. She draws hierarchical power from her husband when she marries him, but, more importantly, she has a very strong will. This is evident in her treatment of her husband. She displays a total disregard of him when she interrupts him in mid-sentence; �M: �We shall speak further � � LM: �Only look up clear�� This would have been unheard of during the time, and especially because she is contesting his opinion, which again displays her fiendish persona.

When she meets Duncan and his royal courtiers, she is sly and two-faced, as she attempts, and succeeds at being able to �look like th�innocent flower but be the serpent under�t.� She does this by becoming a welcoming, loving hostess who appears to be honoured by her guests� presence; �All our service, In every point done and then done double� She does this to appear innocent, and changes her tone, in an attempt to sound more fitting. This is evident by the lack of her common shortening and joining of words.

An important reference from their conversation is the way that Lady Macbeth has the ability to lie through her teeth about religious matters, as though she has been made impermeable to repentance; �We rest your hermits�. This could be a result of her speech on the battlements, when she asked to have her remorse removed from her. This gives her character witch-like connotations. It would have been a controversial idea in the Shakespearean theatre, but one that would have pleased the King, who wrote a book on the subject of witches. It would also have satisfied his main financial backers, who included King Christian of Denmark.

In Act 1 Scene 7, Macbeth convinces himself that he is definitely not going to commit regicide. He concludes that the only reason to kill Duncan is �vaulting ambition�. Lady Macbeth then enters the equation once again, and tries to do as she promised earlier in the Act, and �pour my spirits in thine ear�. Firstly, she does this by criticizing his manliness and his love for her; �Such I account thy love� this is a scornful remark, and would have made Macbeth feel desperate to please her because he intensely adores her (Act 1 Scene 5), and is torn between her and his King and country.

Then she calls him a coward by comparing him to �the poor cat i�th�adage� This was the analogy of the cat who wanted the fish but was afraid of the water. This would have been seen as rather insulting because he has just returned from leading the Scottish troops in a long and bloody war on foreign soil, yet he is afraid of performing a single murder. This is Shakespeare�s way of making Lady Macbeth look even more fiendish, ’cause it makes Macbeth look morally stronger, so contrasting with his wife.

Finally she undermines his valour, and his honesty, by saying that he is breaking a promise to her, and that she would not do the same; �dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this� She uses terribly vivid and horrific imagery to assert her position of power within the dialogue, and then gives the killer blow, by saying that she would kill her own child if she had promised it to him. This is, in effect, a double-edged sword, as it is also humiliating the fact that they do not have children, and Banquo does. This would have been distressing because the witches, who now seem so like Lady Macbeth, who has changed to be similar in soul to them, promised Banquo his child/ren as King/s. Exhibitions of Lady Macbeth�s fiendishness such as this example reassert her reputation as a fiend-like queen.

By this point, she has convinced him that there is no option but to go ahead with the heinous crime of regicide, which is a feat in itself, yet she has also managed to manipulate him so well that he is hanging on every word she says; �If we should fail?� She now knows that he is desperate to do this because she has convinced him.

She then reveals that she has already formulated a plan to kill Duncan. �What cannot you and I perform upon th�unguarded Duncan?� Not only has she planned how to remove the guards, she includes herself in the act itself, which is a fiendish way of convincing Macbeth that she is part of this as well as just himself. This would give him some quiet confidence, and also want to do the whole act, to prove his manliness to his wife.

We next encounter our subject when she has drugged the guards. Macbeth is away in Duncan�s room committing the crime, and she is stood delivering a soliloquy; �What hath quenched them, hath given me fire.� This would have had serious and strong connotations with hell, and Lady Macbeth calling the devil into her. The words �hath given me fire� remind us of the time she became a fiend, when she was upon her battlements, which creates the atmosphere of suspense that Shakespeare intended.

Macbeth returns, and confirms that the murder has been committed. For the first time, the vice-like grip of the spirits of hell seems to be loosening from around the personality of Lady Macbeth. She becomes a nervous character, and mentions animals associated with death, the owl and the cricket. This shows that for once she is prepared to accept that the crime is murder, and all the euphemisms in the world could not cover that up.

There is evidence of dejection and regret in the way she responds to Macbeth; �A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.� If I were playing her, I would sound I imagine this line to be said with a certain hint of sadness, which would convey to the audience that the spirits have left her and that she is left a wreck, distraught and devoured by the demons.

This could also be interpreted as being cruel and mocking, as she is still a fiend, but I believe that this is the effects of the egress of the phantoms.

Despite the idea that the demons have left her soul, she is still loyal to her beloved husband, and does his bidding, rather than overpowering him. She reassures him, �Consider it not so deeply.� She additionally assists him by returning the guardians� daggers when he cannot do it himself, �Look on�t again, I dare not.�

Later in the text, Lady Macbeth is going through a stage of guilt, and displays a fake feint in order to divert attention from Macbeth when people become suspicious of his involvement in the murder.

The next time he is in a difficult situation, when he overseeing a royal banquet Lady Macbeth steps in to protect her King. Macbeth sees the ghost of recently murdered Banquo seated upon his chair. She explains to the �audience� of lords and thanes that �My lord is often thus,� and passes it off as a psychological complication. This shows her love for her husband, and her will to proclaim his innocence. When the lords begin to doubt this, and Macbeth starts talking about murder and the dead Banquo, she rapidly ushers them all out. This displays her skills at thinking on her feet, which may be a sign that the spirits are removing themselves, and the thick, negative haze on her conscience that they presented is disppearing. This allows her to act more freely and think quickly.

She tries to rally his senses, as she cannot actually see the ghost of Banquo, but she can tell that he is in distress. She shares in his pain, which is a very positive quality, and could be the most conclusive evidence that she is not a fiend any more.

Later, in Act 5 Scene 1, we come across Lady Macbeth when she asleep, and sleep-active. She is washing her hands, as if they are dirty still from the blood of the murder. She describes the blood as a damned spot, which in Shakespeare�s time could have been seen as an ambiguous term, also referring to a nubbin, or third nipple used by witches to suckle their familiar. The audience would be given the impression that it was unwanted, showing that she is reverting back to her normal personality.

The idea that she is re-enacting the time immediately following the murder is a way Shakespeare portrays Lady Macbeth�s insanity. It also gives the audience an impression of her repentance.

This is the last time we see Lady Macbeth, yet her performance is concluded with the information to Macbeth that she has died. Malcolm clarifies that after Macbeth�s death she was killed, �by self and violent hands�. This leads us to believe that she could not cope with her guilt any more, and that she committed suicide as a way of ending her trauma. This in turn allows us to deduce that she was no longer a fiend, because she was suffering guilt, which truly fiendish people are immune to.

I believe that Lady Macbeth is not a fiend-like queen, but is the victim of her own tragic mistake. She was wrong to summon spirits of the underworld into her body, and these demons were the real cause of her actions, and therefore the cause of the bloodletting. Lady Macbeth acts like a fiend from Act 1 Scene 5, when she calls the spirits into her, to Act 2 Scene 2, just after the death of Duncan. This could be because the spirits have done their job by causing her husband to commit regicide and are leaving her. She is severely traumatised by this, and this explains her insanity in Act 5 Scene 1 and, ultimately, her suicide in Act 5 Scene 5.

Lady Macbeth is not a gentle woman, but she is definitely not a fiend on her own, the main variable is where you believe the spirits leave her. I personally believe that this begins in Act 2 Scene 2, and ends in Act 5 Scene 5.

All this about Lady Macbeth and the way that herself and Macbeth have changed roles, makes me think that Macbeth is some what pleased and spirits had an even bigger interference. So on the whole, Lady Macbeth is not an evil person although she did want power herself. All this has backfired for her. Although, I still think that Macbeth would not have murdered Duncan if it had not been for Lady Macbeth’s intervention, but the power got to him and he used it all the wrong way. The part of the first persuasion from Lady Macbeth was the beginner of the rest of Macbeth’s rebellious life. This was the main turning point for the change in lives of both individual characters.

Macbeth’s life seemed to take a turn that seemed for the better but back fired as he became obsessed and adored power and a better status, such as king.

Lady Macbeth’s life turned from being dominant to a complete wreck. She wasn’t really in control of her own life, and she couldn’t fully look after herself never mind Macbeth.

This therefore makes me still think about that Lady Macbeth was the reason for Duncan’s death but Macbeth wanted what happened next. Lady Macbeth started of being a feisty character but she lost her sparkle. Therefore killed herself.

This document was downloaded from Coursework.Info – The UK’s Coursework Database – http://www.coursework.info/

This document was downloaded from Coursework.Info – The UK’s Coursework Database – http://www.coursework.info/

This document was downloaded from Coursework.Info – The UK’s Coursework Database – http://www.coursework.info/

This document was downloaded from Coursework.Info – The UK’s Coursework Database – http://www.coursework.info/

This document was downloaded from Coursework.Info – The UK’s Coursework Database – http://www.coursework.info/

This document was downloaded from Coursework.Info – The UK’s Coursework Database – http://www.coursework.info/

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Had it not been for Lady Macbeth’s intervention. (2017, Oct 22). Retrieved from


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