In this scene Lady Macbeth is observed sleepwalking but a doctor and a nurse. The guilt of Lady Macbeth is evident during this scene as she reveals her true colours whilst unaware of her surroundings.
Things are slipping out of hand for Lady Macbeth; this is most evident in her figurative yet fragmented language, as she talks about the murder of Duncan. Throughout the scene Lady Macbeth is revealing her past- her lies. She shows what has been hiding behind the mask all this time all in one night, every night, as we know she is not pretending as she is sleeping.
Lady Macbeth is filled with guilt. However, this guilt was put aside when controlling Macbeth, as when she was controlling Macbeth she felt as though she was controlling her guilt. But, now when Macbeth can no longer be controlled neither can her guilt, it is almost as if it has been displaced. When she was controlling Macbeth, when they were together, there guilt was being shared, but know when she is isolated there is no one to shear the guilt with.
The guilt has started to drive her mad as she can no longer control it as it has started to control her. The guilt has come about due to obsession with the past. Lady Macbeth said ‘what’s done is done’ thus at the time suggesting it will no longer be of concern. But here, despite all her courage and ambition all has been ‘done’ in not past- but present and to a certain extent ever present in her mind. She her self refers to her own statement when she says, ‘what’s done cannot be undone’.
Lady Macbeth’s conscience is disturbing her in an unusual manner. She no longer has the control, which they worked so hard for. We know her conscience has taken over from the way she acts to what she says ‘here’s the smell of blood’. Lady Macbeth is backtracking she has no control over anything. Were in places it has been a battle between good and evil her for Lady Macbeth is having to battle between conscience and re-assurance. Earlier in the play certain acts lead us to question whether Lady Macbeth had a conscience, well her it is shown that in actual fact she does despite any previous events.
Lady Macbeth is Macbeth weakness as is Macbeth Lady Macbeths. Were Macbeth was once reliant upon Lady Macbeth to make his decisions he is now standing on his own to feet, leaving Lady Macbeth uninvolved. We know Lady Macbeth is no longer used in decision making when Macbeth made the decision to murder Banquo without informing Lady Macbeth on the matter. The Macbeths have only been thinking in the short term. Which means they will pay now for there wrong doings in the past.
Lady Macbeth and Macbeth used to be in it together as she had to be strong for both of them to keep the power this was portrayed in the banquet scene; we know Lady Macbeth had put on a mask during the banquet as soon after she had a break down. Lady Macbeth and Macbeth seem to have swapped roles. Were Lady Macbeth was once in control of Macbeth, as he was portrayed as her puppet. Macbeth has now become the controller which has benefited him but not Lady Macbeth who has now been pushed aside as without control Lady Macbeth has no purpose. We know Macbeth has adopted a new policy which seems to be working for him at the moment, ‘the first thing of my heart, shall be the first thing of my hand’ this also shows that he feels he no longer needs to discus his ideas to gain reassurance.
Lady Macbeth is very alone when she had the power Macbeth stayed by her side yet when it is lost so is he. Lady Macbeth is conveyed as very vulnerable, she is a women asleep, on her own, and weakened. Duncan was vulnerable when he was asleep, this also help support the argument that Lady Macbeth is vulnerable. Sleep is one aspect of life which helps it work. Macbeth on the other hand can not sleep this is bad and was also predicted in the prophecy ‘Macbeth shall sleep no more’. Where Lady Macbeth can sleep it haunt her and she’d rather not. When Lady Macbeth and Macbeth were together they were strong with each others support, now that there apart they are weak.
During her sleep Lady Macbeth is giving the game away to both the General women and Doctor. This means she can no longer ‘look like the flower, but be the serpent underneath it’ as their secrecy was there security. Lady Macbeth seems to be living a lie; this will lead to further questions being raised by those who know the truth. Lady Macbeth has been holding everything in for so long she can no longer hold it in as such, this secrecy has exposed her. She is also aware of this when she says ‘hell is murky’ she knows that her wrong doing will lead to pain and troubles. ‘None can call our power account’ she is trying to give Macbeth security and trying to reassure her self, but her conscience keeps resurfacing.
‘The Thane of Fife had a wife’ this nursery rhyme like statement reminds us of all the children who suffered which one of few things that all Macbeth, Macduff and Banquo have in common. As children are often represented as innocent being, this in turn causes the statement to sound innocent also. This shows Lady Macbeth feels insecure, as her humanity comes out, if Lady Macbeth has mothered children she would have felt something that Macbeth did not as she would have had a motherly bond that no father can have.
The lie that Lady Macbeth has been living is starting to take its toll. The facade that Lady Macbeth has been hiding behind is starting to show creaks which she is trying to maintain. Lady Macbeth downwards spiral is it last stages where the only visible possible option now to escape this is death.
All the events that have occurred lead to Lady Macbeth. She has brought the problems upon herself. The weight of everything that has taken place is on here shoulders from Macbeths rampaging around killing everyone and everything that gets in the way of his ambitions, to Duncan’s Murder.
Knowing too much is also a fatal flaw for the Macbeths, as they are fully aware that prophecies come true, yet the two of them choose to intervene and change fate. This at first has not effect but later doe affect them both whether it is indirect. Lady Macbeth is her own enemy. She chose to act in such preposterous ways so she will have to pay the price.
To a certain extent irony plays a large role in Act 5 Scene 1, as the physical symptoms of Lady Macbeth’s guilt include hopelessly trying to clean her hands. We can link this to both her statement ‘a little water clears us of this deed’, and Macbeths insight upon actually committing the murder that ‘will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood… clean from my hand?’ Although they share a common aim (ambition), their beliefs are different; ultimately, however all their beliefs are proved hollow.
Lady Macbeth however can be shown as the victim as she didn’t think through the ‘plan’ to its full extent as she didn’t acknowledge all the aspects and outcomes. She is almost a victim of her own wrong doing. Lady Macbeth has given Macbeth so much- she is to a certain extent the person who gave him his power. Yet Macbeth has just left Lady Macbeth by herself. Where she gave him ambition she has suffered as now he’s got ambition he no longer need Lady Macbeth. Macbeth has decided to put ambition before family, this may be a reason for why he found it easy to slaughter Macduff’s family and attempted to do the same to Fleance. However, unlike the other victims in the play Lady Macbeth is not a victim of murder but a victim of her own guilt which is eating her away and will eventually leave here dead inside.
Cite this essay
What impressions of Lady Macbeth do we get in Act 5 Scene 1?. (2017, Oct 14). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/what-impressions-of-lady-macbeth-do-we-get-in-act-5-scene-1-essay