To understand Shakespeare’s tragic play, Macbeth it is necessary to fully comprehend the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The differences between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are profound. Over the course of the play, Shakespeare skillfully changes the role of the two characters. Macbeth is frightened at the beginning then confident at the end while Lady Macbeth confident at the beginning and frightened at the end.
At the beginning of the play King Duncan hears of Macbeth, the bloody hero. The battle was horrific, but Macbeth was fearless, fighting his way through the enemy and literally cutting the rebel leader in half. King Duncan is suitably impressed by Macbeth's braveness.
“O valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman!”
The audience's initial perception of Lady Macbeth is of a confident and evil woman. In her first scene she is reading a letter from her husband telling her about the witch's predictions. Upon reading the letter she instantly decides to obtain the crown for Macbeth through any possible means.
“Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
What thou art promised.”
It is these two bold and sure views of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth that are soon to change. Lady Macbeth forces Macbeth to murder Duncan and when he first refuses, she appeals to his manhood and courage.
“When you durst do it, then you were a man”
Macbeth eventually gives in with the proposition of being king being too powerful a lure for him. At this stage the audience can deduce that Macbeth is easily subject to persuasion while Lady Macbeth is very persuasive. As the fateful day draws near, Macbeth becomes delusional, picturing visions of blood stained daggers, witches and ghosts. Kill...
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...n Women Reading Shakespeare 1660-1900. Ann Thompson and Sasha Roberts, eds. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1997.
Kings and Queens of Scotland Eileen Dunlop &Anthony Kamm, 1984
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.
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