Shakespeare & Lady Macbeth’s
Shakespeare & Lady Macbeth’s
“How do you think Shakespeare makes Lady Macbeth’s change during the course of the play so dramatic? ” At the beginning of the play, her speech is direct and to the point. She is very much in control of her speech, and uses it to dominate and manipulate her husband. She speaks in a metaphorical way, a manner of speaking in which the witches use, and so gives her speech almost a spiritual feel. Her words ‘tap’ into the spiritual world, and she seems to have a connection with the spirits through her words, thus showing not only her control over Macbeth but her possible control over the future.
Her language shows the audience the real intensity of her evil and her true character and feelings, and so heightens the suspense of her character. However, as the play goes on, Lady Macbeth’s speech loses its power and control, as she reveals how the crimes have affected her. Her words are tortured and guilt-ridden, and this really emphasises and dramatizes her mental breakdown towards the end of the play. Her words have lost all sense and she constantly refers to blood on her hands, this sense of repetition is feverish and agitated, thus giving the scene that further feel of abnormality.
Her speech is no longer written in blank verse, but in prose, and so gives it a choppy, abrupt quality, lurching from one incident to another, which signifies and illuminates Lady Macbeth’s rapid slide into desperation and madness, compared to her speech in blank verse at the beginning of the play, the strong rhythms reflecting her strong, determined grasp of reality. The writing brilliantly recreates what it means to break down and so wonderfully dramatizes her change.
The language deteriorates as the play progresses, resulting in an almost mute Lady Macbeth at the end, her once commanding and organized speech has disappeared, as has her fiery personality. At the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth holds dominance and control over her husband, and it is her readiness of mind and strength of purpose that resolves any difficulties such as Macbeth’s failure to act decisively once the murder of Duncan is committed.
Macbeth confides fully in Lady Macbeth, needing her consent and advice in every action he makes, respecting her and treating her as his equal, there is a lot of trust between the two characters. She is direct and to the point with him, manipulating him so as to get what she wants, with Shakespeare portraying her as constantly overwhelming her husband when he appears. She is authoritative and decisive in their relationship, and decides not only what Macbeth does, but how does he goes about these actions. In her first appearance, she takes centre-stage, reading Macbeth’s trustful letter aloud.
By doing this, it is clear that she is not only dominant over Macbeth as he requires her knowledge and consent, but over the audience also, as she is their full attention and focus, as she displays her innermost feelings and thoughts, the audience are oblivious to anything apart from Lady Macbeth, as Shakespeare shows Lady Macbeth in her quest to lose all femininity and compassion. It seems that although the play is entitled Macbeth, Lady Macbeth’s character and inimitable feelings and actions make her the more prominent character.
Nevertheless, it is this dominance that makes Lady Macbeth’s slide into madness and desperation so powerful, as we see Lady Macbeth lose that dominance and control over her husband. She desperately tries to get it back, to gain the powerful influence and control she once had so much of. Macbeth hardly regards her now when it comes to his actions, calling her his ‘dearest chuck’ and dismissing her. We see the power switching between the two characters, Macbeth, powerful and destructive, and Lady Macbeth, compassionate and weak, this is the most ‘feminine’ we have seen her throughout the play.
And it is this that makes her change so powerful, gone is the controlling, dominant and determined Lady Macbeth, replaced by a fragile, sensitive woman. Everything we knew and associated with Lady Macbeth has vanished as we see her battle with her sanity; she has lost the masculine power that she has been striving for, for most of her life. Lady Macbeth could be portrayed as a witch-like figure, as she seems to know about these ‘murd’ring ministers’ in a way that is far too intimate to be known just from a letter.
She has a lust for the devil, succumbing to a satanic force, and desires to obtain supernatural powers. Even Lady Macbeth’s language, which uses the same metaphoric qualities as the Weird Sisters to influence physical events, (such as the prediction of the future) seems to provide a link between them. The superhuman strength she requires at the beginning of the play is shown through the meticulous planning of the murder, in which she slyly smears the blood of the victim onto the guards.
However it is here when we see her morality start to emerge again as she admits that she would not have been able to go through with the murder as the victim ‘resembled her father as he slept’. We see Macbeth become increasingly more evil and dominant as Lady Macbeth begins to break down, as she is overwhelmed by remorse for the tide of evil that she has helped to unleash, and so go’s mad. The fact that their roles are reversing makes her change so dramatic, Macbeth does not share his thoughts with Lady Macbeth anymore thus isolating her. Macbeth is not the face of evil and Lady Macbeth the victim.