The letter from Macbeth to Lady Macbeth

Categories: Into Thin AirMacbeth

A plan is forming itself in my mind and may result in my ascendance to the throne. The war with Norway has been won, and much credit for the deed has been bestowed upon me. Indeed I slew in battle one of our foes Macdonwald and mounted his head upon the battlements for all to behold. Somehow word of my victory reacted king Duncan’s ears, he was proud of me.

A very strange and frightening thing happened to me. I must introduce the three weird sisters to you, whom in encountered on a heath.

They cried “All hail”, Macbeth! Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, thou shalt be king hereafter. I enquired them of their meaning, at which they evaporated into thin air. They told Banquo his children would mount to the throne this qualms me as our children will not be next in line we must dismiss Banquo. As I stood rapt in wonder at the vision, the Kings own messengers rode up and hailed me Thane of Cawdor, the previous one having deflected.

Their announcement struck me dumb. It was predominately the manifestation of one of the witch’s prophecies. king Duncan has selected his son as the heir to the throne, this indeed torments me as it means I will not become King, “this is a step on which I must fall down, or else o’erleap, for in my way it lies”.

Now the question that distresses me perpetually is this: shall I become king hereafter, as these three weird sisters addressed me.

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I do passionately hope so and this news I have thought to deliver thee, my dearest partner of greatness, that thou mightst not lose the dues of rejoicing by being ignorant of what greatness is promised thee. Although I respected Duncan as a king now that the weird sisters have told me I will accede to the throne, I am really impatient for Duncan to lie in his grave. Duncan shall dine at our dwelling, please do not think I am light hearted as being king is my great aspiration.

My feelings at the moment are ambivalent because king Duncan respects me and I respect him so how can I do any thing hideous.

I know how much you would want me to be king and you will always be my dearest and closest to my heart. Lay it to thy heart and farewell.


Macbeths Diary

I have tonight done the deed. I feel reprehensible as I came the stairs I had blood on my hand, I then said “this is a sorry sight” I am shattered to witness this blood, all the seas in the could not wash off the blood, this awful blood will always stay with me and it will haunt me for the remainder of my life. I can never ask for God’s blessing since I am a sinner, I should not have killed loyal Duncan, I am guilty, I will never be able to ask for Gods forgiveness, I am in turmoil, I mean to be loyal to God, but I am a total sinner and I will go to hell, “I had most need of blessing and Amen stuck in my throat”

I cannot sleep, I will never have peace of mind, “Macbeth shall sleep no more” and this thought will never get out of my mind. I am afraid of what I have done, I am in torment, I cannot think about anything it will not leave my mind. I am obsessed with thoughts of damnation. I cannot get back to normal as this will always be in my mind and it will curse my mind. My dear Lady has been so calm how can I pull my self together? I have just committed murder; my dear does not understand what has happened. I feel loathsome and words cannot define the emotions I suffer. “I am afraid to think what I have done. Look on it again, I dare not” I feel fearful.

I had many doubts about the murder, firstly if I were to kill king Duncan then I would be distrusted by many people who would feel betrayed by me as they see me as such a loyal figure to the faithful King. The murder of Duncan is like a cup of poison, it will always come back to me “this even-handed justice commends th’ ingredience of our poisoned chalice”.

The blood on my hands has surprised and scared me horribly and It caused me to say “will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?” I felt the blood would never disappear.

Duncan trusts me as I have been a loyal kinsman to him; I have been his devoted servant, “he’s here in double trust” how can I perform such a cowardly and vicious attack on our King. He is coming to our dwelling in trust not fear “then, as his host, who should against his murderer shut the door, not bear the knife myself.”

If I slay Duncan it will be an atrocious act and will haunt me awfully, people will approach me and will feel that I am a sinner and revenge will be bestowed upon me. Nobody would ever forget it, I will be like the traitorous Thane of Cawdor and no good will be thought about me “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent”. I feel ” pity, like a naked new-born babe, striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubim, horsed upon the sightless couriers of the air, shall blow the horrid deed in every eye, that tears shall drown down the wind” it is obvious Duncan’s innocence will let everybody know about my murder and will cause me grief.

I have become paranoid about the murder. He is my loyal guest I should look after him, I should not think about this spineless act. I should be concerned about an innocent guest. Although there is one thing which forces me to have thoughts about the murder is my “… Vaulting ambition, which o’rleaps itself, and falls on th’ other” I wanted to be king for so long this may be my one and only chance, this craving ambition could cause the demise of Duncan. I cannot find any more reasons for me to murder Duncan so “We will proceed no further in this business”, I hope my wife does not try persuade me to go further in this act.

I had decided to proceed no further in this business until, my dearest love persuaded me. My dear Lady is much more ambitious than me and she will carry out any act to become Queen, this is what I fear the most. I told her that “we will speak no further” however this makes her more anxious to be Queen. Although my wife has supported me she also keeps putting me down. She is heartless and cold and I feel she has lost her sympathetic side. But she is still my dearest.

The reasons for my change in heart are the things she has said to me, she called me “green and pale” this meant that I was a coward. How can she say such things to me she knows I love her with all my heart. I am a brave soldier how could I possibly be a coward. She is intimidating me, she is threatening my masculinity she said “when you durst do it then you were a man; and to be more what you were, you would be so much more the man”, and she has made me feel guilty when she said “… live in a coward in thine own esteem”, she was implying the fact she thought I was a coward.

She said she will not love me any more because I have refused to do the deed and she feels that all of her hopes have gone she said “from this time forth such I account thy love”. She is manipulating me and she is playing with my mind to try and make me feel sympathetic and willing towards her evil demands. She is so wicked that she would kill her own baby rather than break or go against her word she said “I have given suck, and know how tender ’tis to the babe that milks me I would while it was smiling have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, and dashed the brains out, had I as you have to this” the fact my love said this shows her determination to become Queen.

She is very extreme and has shocked me by saying these awful things. She said that if I go ahead with the murder she is determined to help me drug the guards. When I heard her plan I said “Bring forth men- children only, for thy undaunted mettle should compose nothing but males” I said this because I was full of admiration for planning and confidence.” I am settled” now I will have to commit the murder to be straight with my wife or she will not love or respect me and she will continue to blackmail me emotionally. I don’t know why she can’t carry out the deed her self.

I have experienced this terrible and frightening hallucination, I saw an imagery dagger, and this scared me awfully, the dagger was held so I could use it on someone else I realised it was not a real one, it was just a hallucination and at the time I said “is this a dagger which I see before me”, the dagger had blood on it and it showed what would happen after the murder, I will see the blood always, It will stay with me emotionally inside my mind.

The atmosphere when I went to commit the murder was haunting. I felt terrified how could this happen to me , I hope no one hears me or otherwise they will suspect me of the murder. The dagger pulled me into Duncan’s room, it feels like I am out of control, the murder has affected my mind. It is not imaginary it is real. I am out of control and my mind is in turmoil.

I am going mad I saw a dagger lead me to loyal Duncan’s chamber to commit this awful deed “there’s no such thing. It is the bloody business which informs thus to mine eyes”. I am not sure whether to consider this as a good or bad sign. It’s leading me to Duncan’s room surely meant I had to do the deed or maybe its part of my punishment, part of what is happening or what is going to happen. I was so cold and callous when I said ” while I threat he lives words to heat of deeds too cold breath gives”. But after all my wife ringing the bell must have been a “knell that summons thee to heaven or hell”.

Now that I have done the deed I have many fears and worries which could affect my accomplishments in the future.

A thing which scares me is my oldest and most loyal friend Banquo. I am afraid he suspects me of carrying out the deed. I still remember a conversation we shared in my dwelling. He said to me “I dreamt of the three sisters for you they have shown some truth” surely he suspects me of this terrible murder and I must make sure that he does not find out by about this atrocious crime or my life will be ruined.

The withes last prophecy said to Banquo that “thou shalt get Kings, though thou be none” the reality that Banquos children will be Kings angers me greatly as I want my children to ascend to the throne, I am afraid that I will have to murder Banquo as there is no other solution to this terrible game in which I am greatly involved in. I will have to prevent Banquos descendants from becoming Kings.

People like Banquo must have suspected my part in the murder; I have no idea how I am going to cope with this dreadful crime. Blood fazes me terribly. I fear the consequences. Will I get caught and by who? I shall have to revisit the three weird sisters again, “I’ll guild the faces of the grooms with all, for it must seem their guilt”. If I get caught I will be sure to be killed because of someone’s revenge on me. People will also despise me as I have committed an obscene crime. I told my wife that “to know my deed, ’twere best not know myself” I was trying to tell her that I would rather be lost rather than face this crime.

Malcolm was next in line to the throne , I will have to try and make sure that he is seen as the prime suspect so the accusations on me are not seen. I must ensure people think he has done the deed, my dearest has drugged the guards this was a knowledgeable and effective way of getting rid of the evidence.

I will never be able to forget the crime I have committed as it is ghastly, I will always feel reprehensible. I have committed something worse than murder this is regicide, I am a sinner as I have murdered someone who has been appointed by God. I am a dishonest person who has lost all feeling and I am out of control. I cannot be forgiven at least not by God.

I will see the withes again as they foretold me that Banquo would father Kings. The one thing I hope which could happen but it won’t is “wake Duncan with thy knocking. I would thou couldst.”

These things must be obstacles. I can’t afford to think with a heart. I must descend my dearest is waiting upon my arrival. I hope my love helps me through the future as I am involved in things which are too gruesome to imagine. Farewell

Macbeth’s commentary

Macbeth changes from a dependable friend of the King to a villain who murders him. Macbeth vicious bravery in the war demonstrates to us that he is a violent person. He changes from the ideal hero to a dissipated villain, who has no values, he has no peace of mind and he has murdered many people including his loyal king Duncan, he has also killed Lady Macduff. By the end of the play he has no feelings and is out of control. He turns from courageous soldier to a traitorous unmeaning person. For example by the end of the play he becomes very evil and has murdered many characters in the play including loyal and fair Banquo. At the beginning of the play he has great love and affection for his wife however at the end he is thoughtless and cruel towards her.

In this essay I will explain why Macbeth decides to kill Duncan and how the murder changes him. I will examine his character before and after the murder. I will support my ideas with the appropriate quotations from the play.

Before we see Macbeth his reputation is described by king Duncan and by the captain, this immediately tells us that he is a well recognised figure and he will play a important part in the play. The captain says “for brave Macbeth well deserves that name …” this speech portrays the fact Macbeth is a courageous fighter and he has murdered many people from the conflicting army. This illustrates the information that Macbeth has a fine status. The King, Duncan says “o valiant cousin worthy gentlemen!” this is directed towards Macbeth and there is four meanings in this short speech. This shows that he is brave ,he also uses the word cousin which means that Duncan and Macbeth are close to each other and Macbeth is like a relative to him. He also calls Macbeth “worthy gentlemen” which means he is a pleasant man and Duncan believes he is a nobleman and a strong fighter.

Duncan believes he is a loyal and respectful man and Macbeth has a good reputation. Loyalty between them is strong and this adds to the horror and gruesomeness of the murder.

In this part of the play the witches come to the scene and this is very relevant to the question because they set Macbeth on his murderous path. When the witches come on to the scene they say “all hail Macbeth, hail thee, Thane of Glamis”, this is the first prophecy and it is a revelation to Macbeth as it he feels how do they know about him being the thane of glamis, he is surprised as these weird sisters have never seen or met him in his life.

The second prophecy is very important as it makes Macbeth believe he has the chance to become King. The second prophecy is “all hail Macbeth, hail to thee , thane of cawdor” this astonishes Macbeth as he has not yet heard the news of the former thane being a traitor and his mind is left puzzled until he hears the third prophecy which is “all hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter” this totally confuses Macbeth as how could he be king and it makes him feel ambitious and he begins to consider what it will mean if the third prediction is to come true.

The final prophecy is stated towards Banquo and it says “thou shalt get Kings, though thou be none so hail Macbeth and Banquo” this means that Banquo will father Kings and it causes disbelief for Macbeth because if Macbeth becomes king then his children will not hail to the throne so he is left confused and wonders about the future.

Macbeth is ambivalent about the murder. He says “glamis, and thane of cawdor. The greatest is behind”, this shows that he is already become Thane of Glamis and he has later been crowned Thane of Cawdor which surprises Macbeth as it means that the second prophecy has come true and it means there is a chance of the him becoming king and Macbeth starts to think positively. He also feels terrible about the murder. He is worried and it cannot be good or bad he says “if good, why do I yield to that suggestion whose horrid image doth unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs” this shows he is so nervous that he is tearing his hair out , he is so shaken up that his ribs knock against his heart. Macbeth is ambivalent because he is undecided about the murder and feels that it would be hard to murder Duncan as he has been so loyal to him.

Macbeth’s main reason for wanting to murder Duncan is his craving ambition to be king as a fulfilment of the witch’s prophecy. This is shown when he says “I have spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition”. This ambition is so desperate that he would do anything to get there maybe even murder.

The reasons for Macbeth not wanting to kill Duncan is firstly if he decides to kill Duncan then others will get revenge and Macbeth says “but in these cases we still have judgement here, that we teach bloody instructions, which being taught return th’ inventor” in this he is saying that people will get angry and look for the perpetrator of this cowardly act.

The second reason Macbeth puts forward for not murdering the king is that as his kinsman and subject Duncan trusts him and as Duncan is his guest, it is Macbeths duty to protect the king rather than cause harm to him “he’s here in double trust first as I am his kinsman and his subject strong both against the deed , as his host who against shut the door, not bear the knife myself” this shows Macbeth should protect Duncan as he is innocent, and he has trust and loyalty in Macbeth.

The other reasons that Macbeth gives is that Duncan is such a virtuous person and such a fine king that all his qualities are pleading for him not be murdered “besides, this Duncan hath barre his faculties so meek, hath been so clear in his great office, that his virtues will plead like angels, trumpet tongued against the deep damnation of his taking off” this speech effectively contrasts the images of heaven and hell in the form of damnation, which brings into Sharp focus the goodness of Duncan and the utter evil of the contemplated murder.

Macbeth feels that if he is to murder Duncan than it will all come back to him and he says “this even handed justice commends th’ ingredience of our poisoned chalice” this means this sacrifice will come back to us.

Lastly Macbeth feels that Duncan’s death would cause great sorrow and excite much pity and Macbeth says “and pity, like a naked new born babe striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubim, horsed upon the sightless couriers of the air” by saying this Macbeth means he will feel good if he does not carry out the murder and the thoughts will be of greatness.

In conclusion it can be seen that Macbeth finds more reasons not to commit the murder than to commit it. In the end the reasons he finds not to kill Duncan are much stronger than to kill him so he says “we will proceed no further in this business” although the persuasion of his wife and his vaulting ambition get the better of him as the play progresses.

Macbeth decides not to go ahead with the murder as he feels that he should not go ahead with it because king Duncan is full of kindness and he has many more reasons against the murder than to commit the murder. The only reason he can find is his desirable ambition. He says ” we will no further in this business” however Lady Macbeth is scornful of her husband. She accuses his lack of affection towards her and she tries to force him to go ahead with the murder.

When Lady Macbeth found out about Macbeth becoming king she was extremely worried as she felt that “it is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness” she feels he is to kind and she thinks he needs to be more corrupt and he needs to be more willing to do evil, and feels he is not ruthless enough.

Lady Macbeth decides to cast a spell on her self which will make her more evil and make Macbeth carry out the deed. When Macbeth says he will not do the murder she uses many forceful reasons to change his mind, she says he is “so green and pale” this trying to imply that he is weak and cowardly.

If he does not carry out the murder she can’t love him as he has gone against her word and she says “from this time such I account thy love” this means she will not love him from this moment on if he can’t do the murder. Lady Macbeth says she would rather kill her baby than go against her word ” …and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this”. Lady Macbeth makes him feel inadequate by threatening his masculinity she says “when you durst do it, then you were a man, and to be more than what you were you would be much more the man” by threatening his masculinity she makes him feel reprehensible .

The final thing which makes Macbeth change his mind is “but screw your courage to the sticking place and well not fail. When Duncan is asleep where the rather stall his days hard journey…” by saying this she means she will help him carry out the murder and when Macbeth starts to waver, Lady Macbeth explains her plan, Macbeth is impressed by his wife’s plan and by her attitude. These reasons change his mind and he is determined to carry out the murder. She psychologically forces him and she plays around with his mind and makes him feel guilty. She manipulates him and finally after all the persuading Macbeth agrees to go ahead with the murder and he says “I am settled…” this means he will go ahead with the murder and this finishes this part of the play.

When Macbeth has “done the deed” he meets his wife again. He has committed the murder and is obsessed with the thoughts of damnation. Lady Macbeth tells him to pull himself together he says “this is a sorry sight” this shows he is upset to see Duncan’s blood on his hands. Then he continues to say “I could not say amen when they did say God bless us” this shows he cannot ask for Gods blessing, he is a sinner and he has gone against God by committing regicide. Macbeth says “I had most need of blessing and amen stuck in my throat” this shows he needs the blessing in the difficult time but he feels he is not able to get it. He then says ” methought I heard a voice cry sleep no more” this shows he will not sleep and will never have peace of mind and he will always feel reprehensible and angry for murdering Duncan.

Macbeth is guilty and this is shown when he says ” I am afraid to think what I have done look I dare not” this shows his guilt and the fact he cannot think about it and peace in his mind will never be achieved and Macbeth’s mind is in turmoil.

Macbeth is deeply disturbed by the blood and he feels that it will never go away ” will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand” this shows how paranoid and tormented Macbeth has become. He finally says “to know my deed, twere best not know myself” this shows he wants to block the thoughts of the murder and he does not want to remember what he has done. Lady Macbeth is calm after the murder and she tries to comfort her husband and remind him about the future and the unfinished business such as Banquo. Following the witches prophecies Macbeth changes and this includes his relationship with Banquo as Banquos children will be Kings and he eventually murders Banquo .

When the play was written there was a belief in witches and there was a connection with evil. Also killing a king was seen as a very wicked act. This information helps us understand why Macbeth changes as it shows two serious reasons why his attitudes alter.

In the time when “Macbeth” was written the public were increasingly preoccupied with witchcraft. Although some rebelled against this persecution, the belief in witches was widespread, in this time people believed in super natural forces, this helps us understand why when Macbeth was told about the prophecy that he would be king he accepted it and took it seriously and he must have believed it could come true so he would follow it. The use of supernatural forces increases the suspense in the play an example is when Macbeth relies on the prophecies of the witches.

Also in this time regicide was seen as a particularly evil and awful thing to do as Kings in Shakespeare’s time were believed to be appointed by God this was known as the divine right of Kings. People who carried out regicide were seen as evil and immoral people. Kings were seen as God’s agents, so this action against a king was a crime and a sinful act. Regicide is the reason which makes Macbeth feel guilty and it makes him concerned about the murder and this is the reason why he cannot say “Amen”.

Regicide scares Macbeth as people will get there revenge on him. The audience would have been fearful of the supernatural forces as it was thought of seriously but today the audience would not be that concerned. The factors of regicide and witchcraft set the play and they are the main reasons for Macbeths rise and demise to power. The use of the supernatural in Macbeth results quite well with the respect of the unknown. Without the witches, the ghost, the visions, and the apparitions, “Macbeth” would have been a dull and tiresome play. Even today’s reader’s need motivation to read and this ancient superstition of spirits enhanced the play dramatically. The use of supernatural in Macbeth caused Macbeth to become a darker and more evil person with each paranormal encounter.

Throughout the play Macbeth changes from a hero to a villain. The play explores the far reaching efforts of ones man’s ambition and how It totally transforms that mans character in a tyrant feared nationwide.

At the beginning of the play Macbeth is co leader of the Scottish army and a national respected hero. He increases his reputation with further victories and he is complemented by the King. Shakespeare hints to the audience what Macbeth’s fate will be like by the ambiguity of the witches prophecies. When the play starts Macbeth is not seen until Act 1 scene 3, this is done to show what his character will be like. This leaves the audience in anticipation, this also creates suspense among them. At the beginning of the play the Witches are seen talking about them wanting to see Macbeth this brings about apprehension among the audience as they want to know what these evil and supernatural people want with Macbeth. Shakespeare creates a mixed mood about Macbeth before we see him as there are good things said about him from the king and by the captain.

When Macbeth thinks about his dilemma suspense is created, this is done by making him ambivalent and this creates tension as we do not realise what he is going to do. Macbeth murders Duncan off stage this is done so the audience focus on the character and his feelings rather than the gruesomeness of the murder. The murder can be imagined, however we see how the murder affects Macbeth. We are horrified at Macbeth because he has comitted regicide and he has become an evil man. We feel pity for him because he was anxious about doing the murder and he was manipulated by his wife to carry out the murder we feel sympathy for Macbeth because he is out of control and he has lost all peace of mind. We do not feel as much sympathy for Lady Macbeth because she has let her self into this crime so she should deal with it.

Macbeth can be summarised into a character although strong physically he is very weak mentally and it is this weakness which causes the downfall and change of Macbeth. Other factors do however also contribute to this change such as his wife whose ambition is very strong at first and is much stronger mentally than Macbeth but it is also Macbeth’s ambition and his trust in the witches which ultimately change him. Macbeth changes from a noble gentleman to an evil villain who by the end of the play has no feelings, not even for his dearest love. Most of Macbeth is in blank verse, but parts are in prose and some sections are in rhymed verses.

An effective device in “Macbeth” which adds to the gloomy atmosphere of the play is shakesphere’s dark imagery, this is as early as the first scene when all the witches say “fair is foul and foul is fair, hover through the fog and filthy air”. This shows the imagery of darkness and fear. There is a lot of language used which is in the sense of blood the first reference to blood is made when referring to Macbeth as a brave soldier, although after these references to honour the symbol of blood changes to show a theme of treachery and treason, this is when Lady Macbeth talks about her ambitions. A final way, and perhaps the most vivid use of the symbol blood, is of the theme of guilt and this adds to the dark atmosphere.

Although when we look back at the play we are sympathetic to certain aspects of Macbeth’s characters especially his conscious and guilt over the murder. We feel he should not have allowed his craving ambition to overcome him. Although it is his ambition and influence of his wife and the witches prophecies which help structure the play. The conflict between Macbeth’s conscience and his evil instincts is enormous. However, his struggle against the temptations becomes weaker and weaker each time: from the point he is able to reject the idea of murder to gain the Kingship, to the point he is will to commit it only regarding the risks, and finally his decision to perform the evil deed.

All these suggest that he has brought his own deterioration in character. It is mainly due to his weakness in the face of temptation and his ambitious character. He could overcome the temptations and the promptings of his evil ambition by an effort, but he chooses not to. His gradual downfall of character brought by himself heightens the tragic effect. People will always feel to see such a respectable hero turning from good to evil, when experiencing the extreme conflicts within himself and witnessing his choice to become the slave of evil.

Cite this page

The letter from Macbeth to Lady Macbeth. (2017, Oct 23). Retrieved from

The letter from Macbeth to Lady Macbeth
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