Shakespeare's Macbeth - The Powerful Lady Macbeth

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The Powerful Lady Macbeth

In William Shakespeare's, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is the strongest character. Lady Macbeth's character is not as eclectic as her husband's but it is just as dramatic. Lady Macbeth has a rich and fascinating combination of qualities. She is not a monster without feeling; her husband adores her, for example, "Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck," (III, ii, 45). Macbeth also refers to Lady Macbeth as his dear partner. Lady Macbeth is horrified by blood and during her sleepwalking soliloquy she refers to her little hand suggesting a delicate nature and stature by uttering this: "All the perfumes / of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." (V, i, 43-44). All of this, however, does very little to soften her true nature.

Lady Macbeth is sly and artful as she urges Macbeth to kill Duncan and she is particularly treacherous when she continually urges him to shake off his torments. For example, in this scene from the play, Shakespeare gives the reader an idea of the twist that he gives her personality and how ruthless she can be:

I have given suck, and know

How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:

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, 54-59).

In the following examples you can see how she persuades Macbeth to ignore his torments of his guilt of th...

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...Shakespeare makes sure that the reader realizes that she is diverse in her abilities and her character. Lady Macbeth is the "iron butterfly" in the play.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Bevington, David, ed. "Macbeth." The Complete Works of Shakespeare. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 1992

Callaghan, Dympna. Woman and Gender in Renaissance Tragedy. Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press International, Inc., 1989

Helsey, Catherine. The Subject of Lady Macbeth. London: Methuen, 1985

Novy, Marianne. Love's Argument: Gender Relations in Shakespeare. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1984

Tiggins, Dennis. "Sexuality, Lady Macbeth, and Violence in Macbeth." Shakespeare Studies VII (1975)

Ussher, Jane. Women's Madness. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1991

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