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The Role of Lady Macbeth

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Throughout William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is presented as an evil, cold-hearted person, but, when it comes to the actual act of committing the murder, Lady Macbeth does not commit murder. In the end, it is Macbeth who plunges the knife into Duncan’s heart. Lady Macbeth had planned the whole murder, brought the daggers, and even intoxicated the guards, but it is Macbeth who ultimately killed Duncan. After the crime is committed, it is Macbeth who collapses and Lady Macbeth who smears blood on the guards to complete their plan. From Lady Macbeth actions, it is readily apparent that she is physiologically and physical capable of committing murder, but why does she not? Lady Macbeth is unable to kill Duncan because of the 1600s notion of how a woman should be, Macbeth, being a man should, be the one to seek power, and Lady Macbeth’s feminine qualities forbid her to commit such a crime.

The play Macbeth is set during the Renaissance Era in Scotland. During the Renaissance Era, women did not have a role is society; they were invisible in the eyes of men. Men managed the public life and went to work, while women were expected to stay at home and take care of household responsibilities. A perfect example of a Jacobean woman is Lady Macduff. Lady Macduff perfectly fits the stereotypical, maternal figure. For example, She has five children that she loves very much. Her love towards her children is shown when she calls her son, “poor monkey”(Macbeth, IV,II,64), which is a term of endearment. Unlike Lady Macduff, Lady Macbeth has no children or a kind heart. Lady Macbeth, to prove her power and strength says, “I would, while it (my child) was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed t...

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...beth starts formulating a plan in her mind on how to push her husband into killing Duncan, Every step of the way, she convinces Macbeth by questioning his masculinity. Lady Macbeth, from head to toe, is consumed by evil, but the only issue that stops her from committing murder is the fact that she is a woman. According to Jacobean society, it is the man’s job to act while the woman is supposed to provide moral support. Macbeth, who had a weak heart, made him the perfect pawn in Lady Macbeth’s plan. However, an alternative reason could be that she wants Macbeth to rise in power, but Macbeth needs Lady Macbeth to push him. Either way, Lady Macbeth is never supposed to kill Duncan; it is Macbeth’s responsibility, and role.

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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