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An Analysis of Lady Macbeth

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Leonie Schmidt

on 9 March 2014

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Transcript of An Analysis of Lady Macbeth

An Analysis of Lady Macbeth
By: Sarah, Jocelyne, Leonie, Faraz and Pierre-Paul
Who on earth IS Lady Macbeth?
Lady Macbeth is the wife of Macbeth. She plays a very contrasting role compared to Shakespeare's other female roles.
Lady Macbeth's Appearance
The Macbeth Relationship
Lady Macbeth and Macbeth play opposite roles in their relationship.
Lady Macbeth is:
Not much information is provided regarding her physical appearance. She is described simply as Macbeth’s wife. We can deduce, however, that she is a very beautiful woman, completely contrasting her personality.
Lady Macbeth says that she has "small hands" (p. 77).
Duncan addresses her as “fair and noble hostess” (p. 22) in Act 1, Scene 6.

Her Famous Speech
"Make me less like a woman and more like a man!"
“Look like the innocent flower/But be the serpent under't"
(p. 18)
I'm pretty. Whatcha
gonna do about it?
Lady Macbeth is a power-hungry
woman who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
Lady Macbeth's Personality
Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeth until he kills Duncan and becomes King himself.
Then she appears to change her mind, feeling remorse and no longer desiring murder. She tells Macbeth, “You must leave this” (46) to stop him from committing any more atrocities. In both cases, she shows her ambition, courage, and dedication towards committing tasks.
At the banquet, Lady Macbeth
is quickly able to make excuses for
Macbeth’s peculiar behavior. She thus can think on her feet and is very convincing.

"Sit, worthy friends; my lord is often thus" (65).
"And hath been from his youth. Pray you, keep seat.
The fit is momentary; upon a thought
He will again be well" (p. 51).
Listen to ME!
She also is able to distract others quickly, such as when she diverts the men’s attention away from Macbeth after Duncan is killed and Macbeth begins babbling guiltily. She cries, "Help me out of here, quickly!"
She is playing the role of a distressed,
weak woman, skillfully using her gender to her advantage.
Lady Macbeth is
never seen again throughout the play until her remorseful death at the end.
I feel so
Her breakdown and suicide are
directly related to her feelings of guilt and remorse as she was a participant in Duncan's murder. This proves that she does have a softer, maternal side that she conceals throughout the play.
There really WAS a Lady Macbeth.....
Her name was Lady Gruoch Ingen Boite, or Lady Gruoch of Scotland.

There are no pictures of Lady Grouch, but there is an animated show called "
that portrays the ancient Scottish royal family - this is how they depicted Lady Grouch.
Who was Lady Gruoch of Scotland?

She was born around 1020 AD, daughter of a Scottish prince and granddaughter of the King of Scots (or head of Scotland). Her father actually knew Macbeth's father.
She grew up in wealth, and married Gillecomegain, who was the newphew of the King of Moray. Guess who was the King of Moray? Yup, it was Macbeth's father. Gillecomegain and Macbeth were cousins.
Moray was a self-governing kingdom that stretched across the north of Scotland.
Murder, anyone?
A few years after Lady Gruoch and Gillecomegain had a son (his name was Luach), they both murdered Macbeth's father so that they could become King and Queen of Moray.

12 years later, Gillecomegain was burned to death, along with 50 of his other men. People to this day suspect Lady Gruoch was responsible, as shortly after the murders, Macbeth became King of Moray (as he was next in the bloodline). Who then married Macbeth? Lady Gruoch...
What Happened Next?
Remember Duncan from the play? There actually was a King Duncan I who was King of Scots (essentially ruled Scotland). He died in 1040 AD, and Macbeth (next in line) took over, causing Lady Gruoch to become the first Queen of Scotland.

Don't worry, though - they most likely did not plot to murder Duncan like in the play. In reality, King Duncan I died in battle.

Lady Gruoch committed suicide
in 1054 AD.

It is unknown why, but historians speculate it was because Macbeth and her son died in battle.
Was Lady Gruoch like Lady Macbeth in the play?

Sort of...
She is a third cousin of George Washington.
Similarities and Differences
They were both married to Macbeth.
Both became Queen through murder and secrecy.
They both engaged in murderous plots throughout their lives.
Both were manipulative and power-hungry.
Both committed suicide.
Lady Gruoch was born into high nobility; but on the otherhand it is unknown if Lady Macbeth was born wealthy.
Lady Gruoch got married twice; While Lady Macbeth married once.
Lady Gruoch had a child; Lady Macbeth had none.
Lady Gruoch married Macbeth for political reasons; in the play, it may have been genuine love.
Lady Macbeth killed only King Duncan; Lady Gruoch killed various people.
Lady Macbeth died from guilt, unlike Lady Grouch.
Lady Macbeth's Control Over Macbeth
It is Lady Macbeth who tempts and manipulates Macbeth into killing King Duncan. " O, never; shall sun that morrow see!"

Our first glimpse of the roles
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth play are when Lady
Macbeth receives the letter that her husband is going to be
Thane of Cawdor.

"Yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full o' th' milk of human kindness
catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great."

Already, she is emasculating him and implying that he is too "feminine" to do “manly” activities – essentially, murder.

Prior to committing the murder of Duncan, Macbeth almost decides not to, but Lady Macbeth tells him to be a man - more emasculation.

After the murder, Macbeth is shaking and is horrified by his bloody hands, in which Lady Macbeth tells him, "A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight”- in other words, "Don’t be stupid and feel guilty."

A Shift in their Relationship
As Macbeth becomes overcome with greed and power, he slowly isolates himself from his wife. He even begins to speak and behave more harshly towards her. Lady Macbeth starts to lose her influence and power to manipulate.

"Come on, gentle my lord,
Sleek o'er your rugged looks. Be bright and jovial
Among your guests tonight."
"Are you a man?"

"Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that
Which might appall the devil."
Don't even TRY to emasculate me!
"What’s to be done?"

Murder of Banquo and Fleance
"Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,
Till thou applaud the deed....
Thou marvel’st at my words: but hold thee still."
Lady Macbeth's Transformation
Lady Macbeth began the play as a seemingly ruthless, cunning deceiver.

Yet she ends the play as an insane person, so overcome with guilt that she kills herself.
Since when does she feel guilt...?
Even 18 years after King Duncan's murder, Lady Macbeth still is mad with remorse, clearly showing that she has a weak and vulnerable side that she desperately concealed the entire play.

Her guilt already was shown when she refused to kill King Duncan, claiming he looked too much like her father. Yet, the full realization of Duncan's murder, as well as her husband's murder of the Macduff family, proves to be too much for Lady Macbeth.
Lady Macbeth's transformation from a man to a woman reestablishes a sense of "natural" gender stability in the play.

Difference in Speech
“Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty."

“Wouldst thou have that which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, and live a coward in thine own esteem."

“My hands are of your color, but I shame to wear a heart so white."

“ Tis safer to be that which we destroy than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy."

“Out damned spot! Out, I say! Hell is murky! Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him."

“What, will my hands never be clean?”

“Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand."

Take a few seconds to examine
the quotes; do you see the differences in the way she speaks before and after her transformation?
Differences in Speech
The ultimate defining point of her transformation is her sleepwalking.
Sleepwalking is defined as a
psychological disorder, and can often
result from a mental state of mind.

Lady Macbeth's hidden guilt tears apart her state of mind, plunging her into a realm of insanity in which she cannot function properly.
"Out, damned spot! out, I say!
One: two: why,
then, 'tis time to do't.
Hell is murky! Fie, my 40
lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard?
What need we
fear who knows it, when none can call
our power to account?
Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him.
The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now?
What, will these hands ne'er be clean?
No more o' that, my lord, no more o' that: you mar all with
this starting."
Shortly after sleepwalking, it is reported that Lady Macbeth committed suicide off-stage.

Everything she had worked for in the beginning of the play was to be successful - yet her success only resulted in her downfall as she was not prepared for the personal and emotional consequences of her actions.







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