Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare about a deadly power struggle between two Scottish families. Macbeth, the titular character, is driven by ambition and a prophecy to murder his way to the throne. His wife, Lady Macbeth, is an equally ambitious partner who pushes her husband towards violence. The play explores the psychological effects of unchecked ambition and power as Macbeth descends into madness. In the end, Macbeth’s reign of terror is ended by a rebellion led by his former friend Macduff.
Lady Macbeth is one of the most important characters in William Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth.” Lady Macbeth is introduced into the plot of the drama in Act 1 Scene 5, when she enters. In this soliloquy, Lady Macbeth speaks about her thoughts after reading a letter from her husband, Macbeth, detailing the witches’ predictions on Kingship. The unveiling of characters’ true personalities, such as that of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, are among several interesting themes discussed.
In Macbeth’s letter, he discusses the idea of murdering Duncan in order to gain Kingship. Lady Macbeth is brought into the scene and Macduff enters, Macbeth exits.
Lady Macbeth immediately starts planning how Macbeth should murder Duncan and she reveals her true thoughts on the matter. Lady Macbeth is ambitious and ruthless; she wants what she wants and will stop at nothing to get it. She also has no regard for human life, as shown when she says “He that’s coming must be provided for; And you shall put this night’s business into my dispatch (5.1.25-27). Macduff enters and Lady Macbeth immediately starts to question him about his family and where they are from. Macduff tells her that he must go to England and she starts to get angry with him.
Macbeth enters and Lady Macbeth starts to pour her spirits into his ear, telling him that he needs to kill Duncan in order to gain the Kingship. Macbeth is hesitant at first, but after much convincing from Lady Macbeth, he finally agrees to do it. This soliloquy is essential in understanding the true nature of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. It also foreshadows the events of the play and sets up the rest of the story.
Lady Macbeth’s first reactions to the prophecy of the witches are based on her husband as Thane of Glamis and Cawdor, according to which she becomes queen. This is conveyed by the lines “What you have been promised.” The concept of a soliloquy interacting with the witches’ predictions creates a mystical atmosphere. Lady Macbeth’s initial appearance in the play helps to convey this sense of spirituality and malevolence through her character, who yet has no tangible qualities that might be interpreted in terms of her role.
Lady Macbeth’s next line “Yet do I fear thy nature” refers to Macbeth being too kind-hearted to fulfil the role of a murderer. This is her first doubt about Macbeth, which allows the reader to question whether Macbeth really is capable of such an act. It could also be interpreted that Lady Macbeth is starting to have second thoughts about persuading Macbeth to kill Duncan. However, she quickly overcomes this as she realises that if Macbeth does not kill Duncan, then he will never be able to realise his full potential.
The next exchange between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth is key in understanding Lady Macbeth’s character. Macbeth asks Lady Macbeth to leave him be, and she immediately starts to question his manliness. She does this by saying “And live a coward in thine own esteem”. This shows that Lady Macbeth is very ambitious, and is not content with Macbeth just being Thane of Glamis, she wants him to be King. The fact that she is willing to go to such lengths to achieve this ambition makes her a very dangerous character.
After Macbeth has left, Lady Macbeth soliloquies about how she would have killed Duncan herself if he had not looked so much like her father asleep in his chair. This comment reinforces the idea that Lady Macbeth is evil, as she is willing to kill her own father if it means that Macbeth can become King.
The soliloquy ends with Lady Macbeth resolving to be stronger than Macbeth, and to push him into committing the murder. She says “I will drain his blood” which shows that she is not afraid of getting her hands dirty in order to achieve her ambitions. This final line is significant as it foreshadows Lady Macbeth’s own downfall, as she will eventually go mad from all the blood she has on her hands.
Lady Macbeth is next shown to be somewhat anxious. She remarks that she will not be able to “catch the nearest way” due to her husband’s excessively kind nature. This is demonstrated in a variety of ways. Lady Macbeth explains how her spouse would “not play false” or “wrongly win.” This implies that he was a just ruler who, through murder, gave too much milk of human kindness and became too full with it. The phrase “too full o’ th’human kindness” is used to characterize Macbeth’s overly kind nature.
This phrase means that Macbeth is almost too kind for his own good, and it is this kindness that Lady Macbeth must use to her advantage. Shakespeare uses the oxymoron “milk of human kindness” to contrast the two words and create a more powerful image in the readers’ minds. Furthermore, Macbeth is described as being “too full” of something that should be seen as a good thing. This once again creates a contrast and emphasises Macbeth’s goodness.
The fact that Macbeth is too kind-hearted is significant because it shows how Lady Macbeth must go about persuading him to commit murder. She knows that she must find a way to stop Macbeth’s overly kind nature from getting in the way of his ambition to become king. Macbeth is a good person with a powerful sense of morality, which is why Lady Macbeth must find a way to use this to her advantage. If she didn’t, Macbeth would never commit murder, and she would never be able to take the throne.
Lady Macbeth also uses another technique to persuade her husband- she plays on Macbeth’s ego. She knows that Macbeth wants to be king more than anything, and so she starts to plant the idea in his mind that he is actually destined for greatness. She does this by telling him that “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none”.
In other words, she is saying that Macbeth will become a king even though he is not one at the moment. This is a very persuasive technique because it plays on Macbeth’s ambition and his desire to be greatness. By telling him that he is destined to be a king, Lady Macbeth is planting the idea in his head that he must take action in order to achieve this.
The final technique that Lady Macbeth uses to persuade her husband is to appeal to his manhood. She knows that Macbeth is a proud and honourable man, and so she tries to make him feel like less of a man by questioning his masculinity. She does this by saying that “when thou shalt these unlucky deeds unfold, / Thou canst not then be false to any man”.
This means that Macbeth cannot be a coward and hide his crimes- he must face the consequences head on. By doing this, Lady Macbeth is trying to make Macbeth feel like he has no choice but to commit murder in order to become king. She is trying to make him feel like he is a man of action, and that he cannot back down from what he has started.