Role Reversal of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

Powerful Essays
As Shakespeare’s tragic tale of ambition unfolds, the two central characters, Lady Macbeth and the title character Macbeth, undergo a dramatic shift of dominance in their relationship. In the beginning of the play the couple act as a team, plotting the death of Duncan to further their mutual bloodthirsty ambition. Lady Macbeth soon shows her power over Macbeth when she questions her husband’s manhood and devotion to her when he gets cold feet. As Macbeth’s confidence slowly grows and the witches proclaim positive futures for him he begins to separate himself from his wife, planning Banquo’s assassination without telling her, and no longer being susceptible to her insults. By the end of the play the roles have completely switched and Lady Macbeth spirals into guilt-fueled insanity as Macbeth prepares to battle to keep his throne. This essay will explore the relationship between Macbeth and his wife, paying particular attention to the scenes previously mentioned.

The first interaction between Macbeth and his wife comes in the form of a letter. He writes to Lady Macbeth, telling her about the prophecies he received from three witches. He explains that these prophecies proclaim Macbeth will become King. He writes;

This have I thought good 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. (1.5.10-13)

He refers to his wife as ‘my dearest partner of greatness’, signifying his deep love and admiration for her. Knowing his wife would like the idea of him becoming King, which would bring with the title much power and wealth, Macbeth offers the prophecy to her like a gift. When Lady Macbeth reads the letter she doe...

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...eth attempting to keep her and her husband united, talking to him about how they are coping with what they had done. He starts talking about the danger to his throne presented by Banquo and hints that something will be done about it. Lady Macbeth asks what he is planning, but he responds with;

Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, /

Till thou applaud the deed (3.2.46).

He uses ‘chuck’ as an affectionate but patronizing name for her, saying that she does not need to worry about Banquo until it is time for her to applaud him for his deed. Macbeth now has the upper hand in their relationship, putting her down and making it clear he no longer needs her to help him plot his murders. Lady Macbeth does not challenge him.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. Boston: D.C. Heath and Company, 1915. Google Books. Web. 3 Sept. 2015.
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