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Lady Macbeth - Character Map
Transcript of Lady Macbeth - Character Map
At the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth seems to be a traditional wife of her time period - she is seen at home without much say as to when or where Macbeth will next go with King Duncan. However, that quickly changes with a letter that she receives from her husband since she tells her husband in so many words to kill King Duncan - when Macbeth says that King Duncan plans to leave the following morning, she says; "O, never Shall sun that morrow see!" (I, v, 52) Thus, Lady Macbeth 'rises' from a traditional Elizabethan wife to a woman who's intentions involve murder and who controls her husband to ensure such a course is taken.
Almost as soon as the audience meets Lady Macbeth, she outlines how influenced she is by fame and prominence. At one point, Lady Macbeth says tells her husband; "I have given suck, and know How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me" (I, vii, 55-56), which shows that she has a motherly and loving side to her. However, in exactly the next sentence, she heartlessly says; "I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you Have done to this" (I, vii, 57-60), which shows how low she is willing to go for the sake of making a point with her husband.
For Lady Macbeth, the very hands that once made her feel powerful made her feel powerless. When Macbeth returns to his wife after murdering King Duncan, she tells him; "Go carry them and smear The sleepy grooms with blood" (II, ii, 49-50), no doubt with his hands. When Macbeth 'cowardly' declines, Lady Macbeth does it herself, thus thinking that when she shifts the blame from herself to someone else through use of her hands, she will be free from the guilt. However, when she reaches a peak in her insanity, she laments; "Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, Oh, Oh!" (V, i, 33-34) Thus, Lady Macbeth uses her hands both to 'empower' herself, and more subconciously, to rid herself of the bliss that she so eagerly anticipated.
While in a very real sense her husband is soon to be defeated in a man vs. man conflict, Lady Macbeth becomes defeated in a deep and dark character vs. self conflict. When her husband earlier verbalized his fear, she said; "Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard?..." (V, i, 26-27), whereas when her fears got the best of her, she got the point that the doctor said; "This disease is beyond my practice"(V, i, 40) In a very real sense, the thing that she was once so driven to do caused Lady Macbeth to be defeated against herself and go insane.
Even before King Duncan's murder had taken place, Lady Macbeth feels so confident that her life will get better after it's occurence that she states; "Great Glamis, worthy Cawdor, Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter, Thy letters have transported me beyond This ignorant present, and I feel now The future in the instant." (I, v, 45-49) However, as Lady Macbeth keeps getting more depressed with her mental breakdown, her situation becomes so terrible that even lower-classed onlookers say; "I would not have such a heart in my bosom for the dignity of the whole body." (V, i, 37-38) Truly, the bliss that Lady Macbeth felt during her sharp rise to power is just as sharply ended her rapid breakdown.
From Common to Crowned
From Fortitudinous to Frenzied
Lady Macbeth goes through a lot of character changes through the play. At first she is basically a commonplace wife, then rises to the place of Queen, and then plummets to a state of lunacy. Each of these stages of her life, which occur in a relatively short period of time, cause her character to change greatly, but practically all in ways that are less than praiseworthy. As such, Lady Macbeth is a woman of changing personality traits, but of a constant lesson to readers of Shakespeare's play,
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