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Lady Macbeth Character analysis Essay

Lady Macbeth Essay

“A dynamic character is an individual that undergoes a drastic character change or revelation.”[1] Lady Macbeth is an ideal example of this kind of character. At the beginning of the play Macbeth, written by Shakespeare, Lady Macbeth can be perceived as a manipulative and deeply ambitious person, which implies an overall sinister-like quality. However, as the play progresses, Lady Macbeth’s character changes to one that seems deeply regretful for her actions. Through Lady Macbeth’s interactions and statements the reader views her transformation from a sinister being into a remorseful soul. In the opening of the play, Lady Macbeth is an extremely manipulative individual that essentially has the power to control her husband’s actions. This is evident through the plot and ultimately the death of King Duncan. Lady Macbeth insulted her husbands manhood stating: “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 reinforces her manipulative manner, which provides crucial and important information about Lady Macbeth’s character. In essence, this attack towards Macbeth introduces a pivotal theme of the play: the relationship between gender and violence. Lady Macbeth links masculinity to violence and thereby she has to resort to influential measures in order to achieve her goals. She claims that he is not manly enough because he is hesitant of performing the violent deed of murdering the King. Her mockery of her husband serves a dual purpose of developing her as well as Macbeth’s character. The sarcastic tone reveals the dominating personality of Lady Macbeth, which is significant in influencing Macbeth during later part of the play to succumb to darkness of treachery and bloodshed. Which also intensifies her fiendish attributes. Lady Macbeth has the ability to override all her husband’s hesitation and manipulate him into undertaking these murderous acts. Through persuasion and criticism she was able to manipulate her husband thereby suggesting elements of evil and sinister-like qualities in Lady Macbeth.

There is a defined relationship between manipulation and ambition in this play. That is, Lady Macbeth’s ambition drives her to persuade her husband into the murdering of innocent people. The first example of her determination is apparent in her soliloquy, which is started off with a tone of certainty and conviction. “Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be what thou art promised.” (I, V, 14-29) Ironically, this tone does not alleviate the strength of her character but instead makes the reader wary of her. This draws the reader’s interest and creates a feeling of the oncoming evil that seems inevitable. Hence, the reader can indicate the instrumental role that Lady Macbeth is going to play in the build up of darkness later on. But the primary example of her ambitious behaviour is evident in the plot for her husband to become king. As claimed by the witches, Macbeth would be king, however the means of how this would become was never discussed until Lady Macbeth is introduced. When the reader is first introduced to her, 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 associates with manliness.”[2] This also reinforces the link between gender and violence.

This statement displays the immense ambition she has to become queen, demonstrating she will go to any lengths in order to accomplish her goal. The devised plan by Lady Macbeth further shows her great ambition to become 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 providing evidence of her great ambition. Lady Macbeth is so blinded by her ambitions that she neglects to ponder the potential consequences her actions may have on her and Macbeth himself. This intense and unwavering ambition of what might be to come forces her to place whatever values, morals and good judgment on hold, however it is also her blind ambition that leads to her fast approaching downfall. Aside from Lady Macbeth’s sinister tendencies, there is proof that suggests that there is a compassionate and guilty feeling individual buried inside. The first piece of evidence, which suggests of a remorseful Lady Macbeth, is apparent through her statement: “where out desire is got without content.”(III, II, 7). This passage refers to the lack of fulfillment the role of queen posses, and hints that all her actions were meaningless thereby implying remorseful feelings. Another crucial indication of her guilt is visible in Act Five, Scene 1 when Lady Macbeth is wondering around in a trance state appearing to be sleep walking. It is at this point in time where we indisputably learn of her deepest regrets and guilt.

This is evident when she is heard saying: “Out, damned spot” (V, I, 32) suggesting that she is unable to wash the blood off her hands. These actions play a central role in the reinforcement of another theme: appearance versus reality (Lady Macbeth appears to be wide-awake, however, she is in a state of near unconsciousness revealing the reality of her thoughts). These regretful feelings inherently lead to her downfall through her suicide. By dying by her own hand she is paying the greatest cost for the consequences of her actions. Here underlies the truth to her character, she inherits a change of heart resulting in indisputable evidence that Lady Macbeth is a dynamic character. In conclusion, through Lady Macbeth’s interactions and statements the reader gains tremendous insight into her true character. As the play progresses and character revelation occurs, we see her change from an individual that is deeply ambitious and persuasive to a regretful and remorseful soul. This thereby provides as adequate proof that Lady Macbeth is a dynamic character. This change creates a sense of sympathy in the eyes of the reader; and consequently it is her actions that cause her own ultimate death.

Sources:
http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/macbeth/ladymacbeth.html http://www.shmoop.com/macbeth/lady-macbeth.html
[2] http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/macbeth/canalysis.html [1] Dynamic character defined by (www.dictionary.com)


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