During the Elizabethan era, the great chain of being reigned. Women were low on this chain of power, and men were on top. In fact, women were below horses; you couldn’t live without a good horse, but, you could live without a wife. Lady Macbeth was a woman before her time, she was caught between being today’s ambitious, powerful modern woman and a fragile creature of the Elizabethan era.
In the first four acts of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is vicious, overly ambitious, without conscience, and willing to do whatever it takes to get what she wants. In this case, she wants to become Queen of Scotland. "Whiles I stood rapt in the/ wonder of it, came missives from the king, who all-/ hailed me, ‘Thane of Cawdor’; by which title, before,/ these weird sisters saluted me, and referred me to the/ coming on of time, with ‘Hail, King that shalt be!’/ This have I thought good to deliver thee, my dearest/ partner of greatness; that thou mightest not lose the/ dues of rejoicing, by being ignorant of what greatness/ is promised thee. " (I v, 5-13).Because Lady Macbeth is a woman, she does not have the strength in her female frame, either in heart, body nor mind to carry out the deed of killing the King. Therefore, she calls upon the aid of the supernatural to give her male powers, so that she may have the gall to go through with the plan to murder the King, and allow Macbeth to obtain the throne. "The raven himself is hoarse/ That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan/ Under my battlements.
Come, you spirits/ That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,/ And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full/ Of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood,/ Stop up the access and passage to remorse,/ That no compunctious visitings of nature/ Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between/ The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,/ And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,/ Wherever in your sightless substances/ You wait on natures’s mischief! Come thick night,/ and pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,/ That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,/ Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,/ To cry ‘Hold, hold!’" (I v, 41-57)"Man: a human male, or human kind. Women have always been considered as the gentler and fair sex.
Lady Macbeth feels that to commit this crime, she must become as cruel as she believes men are. Sh...
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...and womanly nature had been worked up to a concentration and high tension which could not endure for long." (Shakespeare Criticism- Freud on the Macbeths). Lady Macbeth is a powerful character who goes from a rise to power to a fall of mental illness brought on by guilt. She was caught between two time periods, that of the Elizabethan era and modern day.
Harbrace Shakespeare. Macbeth. Ed. Margaret Kortes. Harcourt Brace: Canada, 1988.William Shakespeare Criticism- Freud on the Macbeths (from Some Character-Types Met With in Psycho-Analytical Work; 1916). <a href="http://sunflower.singnet.com.sg/~yisheng/notes/shakespere/mbeth_f.htm">http://sunflower.singnet.com.sg/~yisheng/notes/shakespere/mbeth_f.htmLady Macbeth- Character Changes Throughout the Play PlanetPapers.com. <a href="http://www.plantpapers.com/count.cgi?ID=1790">http://www.plantpapers.com/count.cgi?ID=1790The Rise and Fall of Lady Macbeth <a href="http://www.aurora.komux.norrkoping.se/oxford/litera/tim/links.htm">http://www.aurora.komux.norrkoping.se/oxford/litera/tim/links.htmMacbeth SparkNotes Online Study Guides <a href=http://www.sparknotes.com">http://www.sparknotes.com
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