After having read ‘Macbeth’, by William Shakespeare, I can see that Lady Macbeth is a manipulative and extremely evil character.
From the very start of the play, after Lady Macbeth has read Macbeth’s letter informing her of the witches’ prophecies, her first words are:
Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be
What thou art promised
This shows how determined she is for her husband to become king. It is obvious that Macbeth will be king and there is no doubt about it.
Lady Macbeth knows that the ‘nearest way’ for the prophecies to be fulfilled would be to kill the present king therefore she begins on a murder plan.
She wants Macbeth to arrive to the castle as soon as possible so she begin working on him and persuading him to go forward with her evil plan.
Hie thee hither
That I may pour my spirits in thine ear
And chastise with the valour of my tongue
All that impedes thee from the golden round
We can see that she will have to use the power and skill of her speech and almost force him to surrender if the ‘golden round’ is going to be achieved.
Lady Macbeth is so sure that King Duncan will be murdered that she talks about the raven, a symbol of death, is ‘hoarse’ as it is croaking so loudly about the murder that is going to happen.
The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements
Her use of the word ‘fatal’ tells us that she is determined the king will not leave the castle alive.
Lady Macbeth is not only an evil character but also intelligent this makes her dangerous as well. Her intelligence can be seen when she immediately understands how her husband will react. She knows his weaknesses, that he is a man of honour who would not do anything wrong in order to achieve this despite him wanting to do well. Lady Macbeth is concerned about Macbeth’s qualities as a man.
Yet I do fear thy nature;
It is too full of the milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way
Lady Macbeth instructs Macbeth to ‘look like the innocent flower’ as he needs to hide his evil thoughts and be like a ‘serpent’ who hides underneath the ‘flower’.
She invites the forces of evil and dark spirits to enter her body and take away all her soft feminine qualities that she bears, making her so much more powerful and evil.
Come you spirits
…unsex me here
And fill me from crown to toe top-full
Of direst cruelty
She describes ‘cruelty’ being a liquid form because she asks to be filled top ‘to toe’ full of ‘direst cruelty’.
As Macbeth is not willing to carry out this dreadful crime she uses the ‘valour of’ her ‘tongue’ to manipulate him. Her words mock and ridicule him of his manhood and bravery, and then she calls him a coward.
…live a coward in thine own esteem?
Lady Macbeth questions him if he had been drunk when he first said he would go through with this deed.
Was the hope drunk,
Wherein you dressed yourself?
Eventually these scornful words force Macbeth to change his mind and carry out this dreadful murder plan.
She is so evil that she would have rather dashed the brains out of her own child as it was feeding at her breast, than first saying she would go through with the murder but then later changing her mind.
I would, while it was smiling in my face
Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums
And dash’d the brains out, had I sworn as you
Have done to this
She is absolutely determined that the king is going to be murdered that she tells Macbeth she will take charge of everything. The audience would be shocked to hear a woman planning and taking control of a murder and even kill King Duncan herself as women were thought of as a fairer sex. She tells Macbeth to leave everything to her.
…and you shall put
This night’s great business into my dispatch
She wishes the night to come quickly as she has every intention for this evil murder to take place quickly without anyone knowing.
Come, thick night,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes
We can see that she intends on killing the king but before this he must be provided with food, drink and a bed.
He that’s coming
Must be provided for
There is a double meaning here and it is not only for food, drink and the bed but also for the murder plan.
We find out that she cannot kill Duncan herself as he looks too much like her father when he is asleep.
Had he not resembled
Mt father as he slept, I had done’t
This is the only piece of evidence in the entire play suggesting that this woman has some form of conscience.
The guards who had the job of protecting the king are drugged by Lady Macbeth. She then gives the signal, the ringing of the castle bells twice, for Macbeth to carry out this deed.
After Macbeth has carried out the dreadful murder he starts blubbering and Lady Macbeth scolds him for being so weak and scared. If it had not been for Lady Macbeth they surely would have been found out. Macbeth looks at the blood on his hands very afraid and Lady Macbeth says:
A foolish thought to say a sorry sight
Nothing can be done because the deed already has been committed. She then says not to ‘consider it … so deeply’ and not to think about what they have done as thinking about it will eat into them and drive them crazy.
These deeds must not be thought
After these ways; so, it will make us mad
Ironic, because this is exactly what happens to her in the end.
As Macbeth is too afraid to return the bloody daggers to the murder chamber, she takes them and gets rid of the evidence.
Infirm of purpose!
Give me the daggers.
The blood is smeared onto the guards’ hands and faces so that the blame and guilt is passed onto them.
She tells Macbeth that she would be ashamed to be so cowardly like him because she also has got Duncan’s blood on her hands.
My hands are of your colour, but I shame
To wear a heart so white
She points out that she has the king’s blood on her hands but it does not make her weak, pathetic and cowardly like him.
Macbeth is told that ‘a little water’ can get rid of the blood and evidence that links them with the murder.
A little clears us of this deed;
How easy is then?
This is important as it does not clear her inner guilt as she thinks she still can see the blood on her hands when she is mentally ill. ‘A little water’ can clear the blood but not the guilt inside her brain.
The news of Duncan’s death is heard and Macduff is appalled. Macbeth at this point kills the guards who were assumed of killing the king. Lady Macbeth cleverly faints so that the attention would be diverted away from Macbeth.
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth hold a formal banquet and they are concerned to make their first public entrance as impressive as possible. Macbeth has ordered Banquo and his son to be killed as he does not want Banquo’s last prophecy to be fulfilled. During the banquet Macbeth has been informed of Banquo’s murder, but he is not satisfied by Fleance’s escape. Macbeth is asked to sit but he imagines Banquo’s ghost sitting at his seat. Lady Macbeth tries to stop him raving about Banquo’s ghost, which he only can see.
Why do you make such faces? When all’s done,
You look but on a stool
One of the guest questions Macbeth on what sights he is seeing but before Macbeth lets out the dreadful secrets slip in front of the guests Lady Macbeth cleverly dismisses them quickly.
Stand not upon the order of your going
But go at once.
Lady Macbeth is certainly the strongest character of the two throughout Acts 1, 2, and 3. If it had not been for her then Macbeth would have not gone ahead with murder of the king. Her wickedness begins to fade as the play continues but this is exactly the opposite of Macbeth’s character, as he becomes more evil as the play goes on. Her last valiant act was in the banquet scene. After this she quickly gets worse resulting in her death.