William Shakespeare's classic tragedy Macbeth presents an atypical woman in the character of Lady Macbeth. This essay will explore her character.
Fanny Kemble in "Lady Macbeth" depicts the character of Macbeth's wife:
Lady Macbeth, even in her sleep, has no qualms of conscience; her remorse takes none of the tenderer forms akin to repentance, nor the weaker ones allied to fear, from the pursuit of which the tortured soul, seeking where to hide itself, not seldom escapes into the boundless wilderness of madness.
A very able article, published some years ago in the National Review, on the character of Lady Macbeth, insists much upon an opinion that she died of remorse, as some palliation of her crimes, and mitigation of our detestation of them. That she died of wickedness would be, I think, a juster verdict. Remorse is consciousness of guilt . . . and that I think Lady Macbeth never had; though the unrecognized pressure of her great guilt killed her. (116-17)
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. It is very remarkable that Macbeth is frequent in expressions of tenderness to his wife, while she never betrays one symptom of affection towards him, till, in the fiery furnace of affliction, her iron heart...
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...d. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1972.
Knights, L.C. "Macbeth." Shakespeare: The Tragedies. A Collectiion of Critical Essays. Alfred Harbage, ed. Englewwod Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964.
Mack, Maynard. Everybody's Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. http://chemicool.com/Shakespeare/macbeth/full.html, no lin.
Siddons, Sarah. "Memoranda: Remarks on the Character of Lady Macbeth." The Life of Mrs. Siddons. Thomas Campbell. London: Effingham Wilson, 1834. Rpt. in Women Reading Shakespeare 1660-1900. Ann Thompson and Sasha Roberts, eds. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1997.
Wilson, H. S. On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1957.
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