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Macbeth is a play written by William Shakespeare, which was first
performed in 1606. This time was known as the Elizabethan times.
William Shakespeare's plays had to be approved by the king. The king
was James I, who was also James IV, King of Scotland. He was thought
to be paranoid. During this time Guy Fawkes had planned to kill the
king but had failed, yet this caused the king to continuously look
over his shoulder. He believed he was cursed by black magic, and women
who were accused of being witches were burnt.
During this time women had no status and were accused of being witches
if they were strong and ambitious. William Shakespeare in this play
made Lady Macbeth the complete opposite. He made her strong, ambitious
and showed her having a lot of power over her husband.
Macbeth is a play about revenge, deceitfulness, murder and love.
Macbeth was a very respectable soldier. Lady Macbeth was the wife of
Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is a very interested character as the role she
plays changes during the play. Lady Macbeth first was a strong and
ambitious woman, yet by the ending of the play her character changes;
she becomes weak and mad.
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This shows that Lady Macbeth's character has a two-sided
interpretation. One side was before and during the murder of King
Duncan, whilst the other was just before her death.
To prove my thoughts on Lady Macbeth up to King Duncan's death I used
"What beast wasn't then
That made you break this enterprise to me?
When you durst do it, then you were a man.
And to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man." (act I scene VII)
We can see from this quote that that Lady Macbeth is manipulative and
persuasive as Lady Macbeth uses most of the techniques of persuasion
in this speech. This quote also shows her determination and that she
has power over her husband.
"I may pour my spirits in thine ear
And chastise with the valour of my tongue." (act I scene V)
This quote shows her ambition and her power over her husband.
"And shalt be
What though art promised;"
(act I scene V)
In this quote she is being supportive and is encouraging Macbeth.
"Infirm of purpose!
Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead
Are but as pictures, 'tis the eye of childhood
That fears a painted devil."
And the quote:
"A little water clears us of this deed.
How easy it is then."
(act I scene II)
Shows that Lady Macbeth is strong, it also shows her confidence. As
Lady Macbeth is strong enough to go back to put the daggers, it shows
her bravery and courage.
Many people wondered whether Lady Macbeth's motive for killing King
Duncan had only been for her own selfish reasons. I think Lady Macbeth
does want Macbeth to be king, not for her own reasons, but to make her
husband happy. She is very supportive towards her husband.
To prove my opinions I used this quote,
"Thou wouldst be great."
In this quote Lady Macbeth is praising her husband because she
supports him and wants his happiness.
"Come you spirits."
(act I scene V)
In this quote I think that Lady Macbeth is not either influenced by
witches or calling witches, but is calling her inner evil spirits. I
think this because I believe that everyone has a spirit inside them. A
good one to help them do good, and an evil one to help them do evil.
Just before Lady Macbeth's death, Lady Macbeth's character changes.
Lady Macbeth was unloved and ignored; this caused her to become mad.
She also became careless enough to unconsciously tell the truth about
what happened on the night of King Duncan's death; to the doctor and
maid. Also all the guilt from this night caused her to become weak.
We are first introduce to Lady Macbeth in Act I scene V, in which she
is reading the letter that Macbeth had sent her about the meetings of
the witches. From after reading the letter Lady Macbeth shows herself
being strong and ambitious. This also supports my view on Lady Macbeth
before the murder of King Duncan.
The 1917 filmed production of Macbeth was directed by Polanski and the
actress who played Lady Macbeth was Francesca Annis.
For Act 1 Scene V the setting used is Lady Macbeth on the battlements
of the castle. Lady Macbeth is alone on top of the battlements. This
has the effect of Lady Macbeth needing to be alone to think. It makes
the viewer think Lady Macbeth likes to be on top and in control of
Lady Macbeth is wearing a traditional, long, flowing dress. Polanski
makes her look less feminine and like a normal person not a queen.
During the speech in the first half there is no movement. The effect
of this is that it makes us think Lady Macbeth is thinking and
preparing for the arrival of King Duncan. Though there is no movement
her hair is blowing in the wind. This shows that though she may look
really strong and in control she is actually really vulnerable and not
so much in control. In the second half of the speech she is running
downstairs to meet Duncan, this makes her seem eager.
The camera work in this production is started with Lady Macbeth
filling the camera, and then an over the shoulder shot of Duncan
arriving, finishing with Lady Macbeth going down the stairs to greet
In Polanski's production the voice over on the first half of the
speech may make us think she is not calling on witches, but calling on
her inner spirits. Having Lady Macbeth on the battlements makes her
look stronger and in control.
This production If I was to make a production I would choose to make
it like Polanski's as it supports my idea on what I think Lady Macbeth
was before the murder of King Duncan.
The witches prophecies may have made Macbeth first think of murder,
but after Lady Macbeth reads his letter she encourages Macbeth to go
along with the murder.
Macbeth's ambition had made him think of murder but he had tried to
dismiss the thought, but his love for his wife made him listen to her.
Lady Macbeth pushes him into doing the murder by calling him a coward
and saying he had no determination.
Though Macbeth did kill the king we can see he did not want to and
also felt guilty about it. All the guilt made him hallucinate and see
After the murder is done we can see Macbeth is feeling really
regretful about the murder. At this point we can see that Macbeth
could not have done the murder without the help of his wife.
Lady Macbeth had shown no doubt or suspicion in the witch's
predictions, which then led her to encourage Macbeth into doing the
murder of King Duncan.
Lady Macbeth was told about the murder in Act 1 Scene V yet by Act 1
Scene V11 she has already thought of a plan. This shows that she has
been thinking of the murder. Lady Macbeth does all the planning yet
she only doesn't do the actual killing.
Looking at all this evidence I can say that though Macbeth's ambition
and the witch's prophecies held a big part in the murder, Lady Macbeth
was the main cause of the murder. Yet though she may be guilty for the
murdering of King Duncan, Lady Macbeth only did this for the happiness
of her husband. Keeping this in mind I believe Lady Macbeth is not
Lady Macbeth's death was due to her becoming mad near the ending.
After the murder she had felt no guilt or remorse. She says, "A little
water will clear us of this deed," like it was nothing big. However by
the end of the play the guilt catches up.
She had become entirely focused on the murder, not even allowing
herself to think they might fail, which then with the guilt made her
mad and later on to her own death.
Finally I would like to conclude that Lady Macbeth was a strong,
ambitious woman who was loved by her husband very much, until her own
actions led her to her death.