1. Trace the development of Lady Macbeth’s character.
2. Show how the relationship between her and Macbeth changes during the play.
Lady Macbeth makes her first appearance alone in the castle in Act 1, Scene 5, she believes instantly in the prophecy and assumes even more quickly than Macbeth that Duncan must be murdered for it to become true. She is controlling and she implies the idea that her husband being a coward and she prepares herself to becoming the queen. Lady Macbeth gets involved and makes a plan and ideas for the future about her and Macbeth.
Lady Macbeth says he is “too full o’ milk of human kindness to do the deed”
This shows how Lady Macbeth thinks her husband is weak and too kind.
In Act 1, scene Lady Macbeth uses persuasion towards Macbeth calling him a ‘coward’, she taunts him and says he cannot love her. Lady Macbeth questions the manhood of her husband, implying that he must murder Duncan in order to prove himself a man. Even after the deed is done, she is disgusted by his sensitivity. She decides to take matters into her own hands and replaces the bloody daggers to complete the murderous deceit. She begins to show signs of greed and forces her husband to kill Duncan.
Macbeth kills Duncan and Lady Macbeth says afterwards: “leave all the rest to me”.
I feel that this proves how she is in control of the situation and is the brains behind this evil plan.
The morning after in Act 2, Scene3 she pretends to fall down and look ill, and says “help me please” She does this to stop the attention being directed towards Macbeth.
But this also shows how she’s far from helpless as she already proved earlier in the play with her charm and skills. Macbeth feels depressed about Duncan’s murder and Lady Macbeth is still very selfish and regards Macbeth as weak, the only thing she does is say
“What can’t be cured has to be endured, what is done is done”.
After all Lady Macbeth did poison the guards and Macbeth did kill Duncan, Lady Macbeth seemed more concerned about Malcolm going away rather than comforting Macbeth in his time of need.
In Act 3, Scene 3 you see Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking she’s having a nightmare of the night King Duncan was killed.
“Yes here’s a spot”
Which is indicating to the blood on her hands from the daggers and she said this a few times more
“The thane of fife had a wife”.
Finally Lady Macbeth becomes more and more brain washed by the end and she ends up going mad and ends up killing herself committing suicide showing how distraught she really was.
Macbeth knows that killing a king is a terrible crime. At the start of Act 1, Scene 7, he considers whether to do it. When he decides to “proceed no further in this business” Lady Macbeth thinks he is afraid and persuades him. Later Macbeth’s decision to kill Banquo is a turning point, up until this he has been bullied into action by this wife. He keeps her innocent of the knowledge and he becomes more independent than her.
Macbeth, who shows outward signs of weakness and even madness in front of Duncan at the feast and in the presence of the rest of court at the dinner table in a later scene. Lady Macbeth plays the perfect hostess and the perfect lady.
“Your majesty loads our house, for those of old, and the late dignities heap’d up to them”.
It is her commitment to the role that eventually condemns her soul. She keeps her cool, even when the stakes are high. She holds Macbeth together at times when he would nearly blow their cover.
“You do unbend your noble strength to think so brainsickly of things.”
It is ironic that she should make this statement to Macbeth considering her mental state at the play’s end. Before the killing, her resolve and ambition are much greater than Macbeth’s, but as their troubled dynasty unravels, she is the one whose sanity slips the quickest. The ‘stains’ that she is unable to wash from her hands mirror her larger role in the treachery. Because she knows that she is ultimately responsible for forcing Macbeth’s hand, her mind is tormented by the figurative blood on her own hands. Her honesty while sleepwalking gives proof to what most already know, or at least feel.