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Lady Macbeth Case Study

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In William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, Lady Macbeth is responsible for the death of King Duncan. Although other characters did contribute to the downfall of the king, such as the three witches and Macbeth himself, Lady Macbeth’s role in his murder is the most prominent and influential. Upon first reading her husband’s letter, Lady Macbeth instantly believes that the way to achieve the crown is to kill King Duncan. The three witches in the play, who play an important role in the King’s downfall, are not as responsible as Lady Macbeth, as they never claim outright that any foul play must occur in order for their prophecies to come true. Furthermore, Macbeth himself, although clearly playing a pivotal role in the fatal act, is not entirely convinced that he should murder in order to become king and is therefore not nearly as responsible as his wife. Lady Macbeth however, manipulates her husband and convinces him to go through with the murder, even though he would have sooner not killed the king without her intervention.

Lady Macbeth believes wholeheartedly that the King must die, from as soon as she is aware of the witches’ prophecy. After reading Macbeth’s letter to her, Lady Macbeth is certain that her husband “shalt be what [he] art promised”. However she also believes that her husband is “too full of the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way”. Lady Macbeth feels that Macbeth is overly nice, and that this will stop him being able to seize the crown. She feels that the only way for the pair of them to become monarchs is to “play false”, to do the wrong thing. Throughout her soliloquy that succeeds the letter reading, Lady Macbeth references the need to do something evil in order to achieve the crown. Later in the same scene...

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... the brains out” of her own child as “it was smiling in [her] face” than break such strong a promise. Macbeth then worries that the plan will fail, but Lady Macbeth strongly convinces him that if he is courageous enough, they can’t fail. By manipulating her husband with such intent, Lady Macbeth further proved herself to be responsible for King Duncan’s death.

Lady Macbeth is the most responsible for the death of King Duncan. While the witches in the play provide the motivation for Duncan’s betrayal, they never instruct Macbeth to take his cousin’s life, yet Lady Macbeth does. Also, while Macbeth physically stabs his leader, it is only because of the instruction and manipulation of his wife. From as soon as she knows of the prophecies of the witches, Lady Macbeth is convinced that the king must die. Lady Macbeth is the most responsible for the death of King Duncan.
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