The Character of Lady Macbeth

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The Character of Lady Macbeth The character of Lady Macbeth is a complex one, there is much that can be said regarding the juxtaposition of ideas concerning her behavior. Within this essay I shall attempt to elaborate on her forceful, selfish and contradictory character. Samuel Johnson within ‘The Plays of Shakespeare’ highlights how ambition of a protagonist leads to detestation on the part of the readers: Or in other words an ambitious nature can be used as a tool by the playwright to produce a sense of loathing and dislike amongst the audience. The dangers presented by ambition are well described; In Shakespeare's time, it was necessary to warn credulity against vain and illusive predictions. These passions are directed to their true end. Lady Macbeth is merely detested; and though the courage of Macbeth preserves some esteem, yet every reader rejoices at his fall. (133) In "Memoranda: Remarks on the Character of Lady Macbeth," Sarah Siddons comments on the Lady's cold manner: [Macbeth] announces the King's approach; and she, insensible it should seem to all the perils which he has encountered in battle, and to all the happiness of his safe return to her, -- for not one kind word of greeting or congratulations does she offer, -- is so entirely swallowed up by the horrible design, which has probably been suggested to her by his letters, as to have forgotten both the one and the other. (56) In his book, ‘On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy’, H. S. Wilson describes the role of Lady Macbeth: ‘Professor Kittredge used to point out to his classes that Lady Macbeth, in urging Macbeth to act, uses the three arguments that every wife, some time or other, uses to every husband: "You promised me you'd do it!" "You'd do it if you loved me!" "If I were a man, I'd do it myself!" But Macbeth's mind is made up by her assurance that they may do it safely by fixing the guilt upon Duncan's chamberlains. (72)’ L.C. Knights in the essay "Macbeth" describes the unnaturalness of Lady Macbeth's words and actions: ‘Thus the sense of the unnaturalness of evil is evoked not only be repeated explicit references ("nature's mischief," "nature seems dead," " 'Tis unnatural, even like the deed that's done," and so on) but by the expression of unnatural sentiments and an unnatural violence of tone in such things as Lady Macbeth's invocation of the "spirits" who will "unsex" her, and her affirmation that she would murder the babe at her breast if she had sworn to do it.
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