Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth character analysis

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 963
Topics: Book, Macbeth, William Shakespeare
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Introduction

Lady Macbeth represents the ideal example of an individual with dynamic character development, who passes through major changes. From the very beginning of the play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare, Lady Macbeth appears before the reader as a manipulative personality with angry intentions. However, the more events develop in the play, the more we can note the personal change in Lady Macbeth, when she begins to regret the things she has done. On the basis of Lady Macbeth’s display, we see her transformation from an offensive woman into a sympathetic one.

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Description of Lady Macbeth

In the muscle of the play, Lady Macbeth is a highly manipulative person, who undoubtedly has an unlimited influence on the actions of her husband. These features of character are clearly traced through the plot and as a result through the death of King Duncan. Lady Macbeth’s disrespect to her husband can be seen by her statement: “What beast was’t then that made you break this enterprise to me? When you durst do it then you were a man; And to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man…” (I, VII, 52-64).

This statement successfully emphasizes her persuasive nature and provides substantial and significant information about Lady Macbeth’s character. Visibly, this pressure on Macbeth reveals the key theme of the play: the link between gender and violence. In Lady Macbeth’s personality, masculinity and violence are intertwined, which allows her to absolutely dominate the situation to achieve her goals. She is convinced that Macbeth is not masculine enough, because he will never dare to commit a violent murder of the King. Mockery of her husband establishes their further development as characters. The sarcasm in Lady Macbeth’s words illustrates her dominant features, which exercise a substantial influence on Macbeth and develop him into a cruel person in the future. Lady Macbeth possesses all the necessary skills to convince her husband not to hesitate to perform terrible actions. She was capable of absolutely conducting her husband, implementing the humiliation and the conviction that pointed to her malign character.

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Lady Macbeth character analysis

There is an evident relationship between manipulations and ambitions in this play. This means the ambitions of Lady Macbeth force her to convince her husband to kill innocent people. The first sign of her determination is displayed in her soliloquy, which begins with a tangible certainty and conviction. “Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be what thou art promised.” (I, V, 14-29) Strangely enough, this tone makes us increasingly wary of her character. This captures the reader’s attention and arouses the feeling of imminent wickedness. That is, the reader can determine the crucial role of Lady Macbeth in the construction of the darkness. However, her ambitious behavior is explicit in the story when she requires her husband to become king. According to witches, Macbeth is judged to be king, but the ways of achieving this title were not discussed before Lady Macbeth appeared. When her character first appears in the play, she is asking for spirits to “unsex me” (I, V, 44). “The language suggests that her womanhood, represented by breasts and milk, which are usually symbols of a nurturer, prevents her from performing acts of violence and cruelty, which she associated with manliness.”  This scenario also points to a direct link between gender and violence.

This statement demonstrates her tremendous desire to become a queen and her willingness to make any sacrifice to achieve her personal goal. A well-defined Lady Macbeth plan shows her vast ambition to become a Queen of Scotland. Lady Macbeth states to Macbeth: “O, never shall sun that morrow see!” (I, V, 67-68) referring to the murdering of King Duncan, which is an indisputable proof of her great ambitions. Lady Macbeth is so blinded by her goals that she has barely managed to consider the possible consequences for her family. This strong and uncomplicated ambition for her possible future makes her abandon values and morality, and follow only one goal, which leads to her fast approaching downfall. However, despite the sinister nature of Lady Macbeth, there is evidence that there is conscience and pity inside her soul. The first fact that Lady Macbeth has a guilty memory that haunts her, represents a statement “where out desire is got without content.”(III, II, 7). This speech shows the role of the queen is unfulfilled, and all the actions of Lady Macbeth were nonsensical, thus pointing to her remorseful feelings. Another significant evidence of her guilt is seen in Act Five, Scene 1 when Lady Macbeth roams in a trance state that seems to be the sleep walk. It is then we undoubtedly learn her deepest regrets and guilt.

This becomes apparent when she is detected saying: “Out, damned spot” (V, I, 32) suggesting she will never be able to wash the blood off her hands. During these actions, another theme comes to the fore: appearance versus reality (Lady Macbeth seems wide-awake, but she is almost oblivious and reveals her internal thoughts). These distressing sentiments intrinsically cause her downfall by her suicide. When she dies by her own hand, she pays the most for the outcomes of her acts. Behind the truth of her personality, she inherits a change of heart that leads to the incontrovertible proof that Lady Macbeth is a dynamic character.

Conclusion

In summary, through the descriptions, dialogs and interactions of Lady Macbeth, we obtain a logical idea of her inner world. Along with the play development, we observe the change of her character from an ambitious and convincing woman to a miserable soul with remorse. This leads to a logical conclusion that Lady Macbeth is a dynamic character. This fundamental change of character causes deep sympathy by readers; and, it is her actions that inevitably cause her own death in the ultimate end.

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  1. Shakespeare, W. (1992). Macbeth. Wordsworth Editions.
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