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The Guilt of Lady Macbeth

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The Guilt of Lady Macbeth

Shakespeare's "Macbeth" holds many hidden themes within its already exuberant plot. The first of these surrounds the murder of Duncan and the role that both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth himself played. However, the true guilt of the murder can fall on either character. Although Macbeth physically committed the crime, it was Lady Macbeth that pushed him to his limits of rational thought and essentially made fun of him to lower his esteem. With Macbeth's defenses down, it was an easy task for Lady Macbeth to influence Duncan's murder and make up an excuse as to why she could not do it herself. The guilt of Duncan's murder can be placed firmly on the head on Lady Macbeth.

Lady Macbeth wants the murder of Duncan for her own gains. Given the present situation, she is power hungry. The wyrd sisters predicted that Macbeth would be king. This means that the obvious result would be Lady Macbeth as queen. Instead of waiting for Duncan to die naturally or to be killed by someone else, she ushers the task to Macbeth. She forces it upon him, which is unfortunate, for he starts a moral character. It is the methods she uses to convince Macbeth that murder is the answer that are extremely cruel and manipulative, sending no doubt that she is the chief culprit in the murder of Duncan, and his death may be put squarely in her hands.

Sex roles in the 1600s were very strict; women were forbidden from acting in theatrical works. Shakespeare seems to play off this in his casting and dialect. The masculinity of Macbeth is questionable in itself, with the provocative language used in the play. He himself is unsure of his "abilities" as a member of the male sex....

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...tions, the use of her "womanly" features, and her attacks on the manliness of Macbeth all put more guilt on her shoulders than Macbeth by far. She deserves no pity either. Her eventual trip to insanity was her own fault, as well as the final battle where Macduff kills Macbeth. Had she shown patience, fate may have eventually worked in Macbeth and her's favor.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Epstein, Norrie. The Friendly Shakepeare, New York, Viking Publishing, 1993.

Schlegel, August Wilhelm. Criticism on Shakespeare s Tragedies . A Course of Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature. London: AMS Press, Inc., 1965.

Shakespeare, William. Tragedy of Macbeth . Ed. Barbara Mowat and Paul Warstine. New York: Washington Press, 1992.

Wills, Gary. Lady Macbeth and Evil. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
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