William Shakespeare's Macbeth In the play "Macbeth" written by William Shakespeare, Lady Macbeth is
one of Shakespeare's most famous and frightening female characters. At
the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth is introduced as a dominant,
controlling, cold-blooded wife with an obsessive ambition to achieve
kingship for her husband. Her personality begins to change drastically
as the play progresses; it gradually disintegrates through a false
portrayal of unyielding strength, an unsteady control of her husband
and shifting involvement with supernatural powers. Her weak,
sheltered, unsure and unstable condition is only revealed at the end
of the play.
Her ambition for achieving kingship for her husband will drive her to
do anything. She manipulates her husband with remarkable
effectiveness, overriding all his objections, when he hesitates to
murder, she repeatedly questions his manhood until he feels that he
must commit murder to prove himself. She knows that Macbeth is a
strong person, and she must seem stronger to convince him to go along
with her. She now has to wear a "mask" of this determined and cold
character, creating more distance between her true self and Macbeth.
Lady Macbeth has the persuasiveness capable of humiliating someone
into murder, but has no personal capacity to execute "the dead",
though she spoke, at times, as if she would take the opportunity
whenever it arose. She claims that she can act to "look like the
innocent flower/But be the serpent under't" Lady Macbeth imagines that
she has the capability to be a remorseless and determined villain...
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...s at the end
of the play. She eventually goes delirious, carrying a lit candle
wherever she walked. Indeed, this behavior is a pathetic attempt to
try and fend off the real, evil darkness with a man-made light. She
looks to Lady Macduff with a countenance of that which would belong to
a ghost. She begins to express a compassion that she had never felt,
or at least shown, when she utters, "The thane of Fife had a wife.
Where is she now? What, will these hands ne'er be clean? Lady
Macbeth's decaying remorse she had chosen to restrain had sunken into
her brain, like a sump, slowly grabbing at her thoughts one by one.
The darkness had stripped her of her "mask" and she is now engulfed in
agony and sorrow. She is helpless. The thought of evil, which she once
sought after and accepted, was now an image of terror in her mind.