In the play of Macbeth, Shakespeare introduces the main character, through the eyes of the one who knows him best, his wife. Lady Macbeth displays to the audience all of Macbeth’s weaknesses; her ambition to have power becomes her husband’s and this will bring out Macbeth’s ambition to be king. She also proves that the strong may become the weak and the weak may become the strong. Lady Macbeth is a main character in this play because she introduces Macbeth and helps the reader to understand his character. At the start of the play she seems to be the more ruthless of the two. When the reader is first introduced to Lady Macbeth she is already planning the death of King Duncan. In order for her to have the courage to do the deed and ask that all woman emotions be removed from her, “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! (p 257)” She is a key factor in this play because she links the male soul to the female body, showing that ambition can lead to violence.
When Lady Macbeth reads the letter from her husband telling her the news about becoming the Thane of Cawdor, Thane of Glamis and of the three witches that told him he would be king, she was overwhelmed by ambition to have power. She then goes on to plot the death of the King, then realizing that Macbeth would not go through with the plan unless she pushes him to do it, “Yet do I fear thy nature; it is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great, Art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it. (p 256)” She knows that Macbeth is a loyal warrior and it would be difficult, and she does it by questioning his manhood, “But screw your courage to the sticking-place And we’ll not fail. (p 260)” When the King arrives she makes Macbeth stay out of the room because his face releases the secrets that lye within, “Your face, my Thane, is as a book where men May read strange matters. (p 257)” The King, after dinner, goes to bed and the plan is under way.
Lady Macbeth is very confident that they will not be suspected for the murder of the King, and she assures Macbeth that if they do everything right then he will become king. After Macbeth had gone into the King’s room to kill him, he came out with the daggers in hand saying that water alone will not wash away the guilt and regret of killing the King, “To know my deed, twere best not know myself. Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst! (p 270)” After he was named king by the people he began to thing of what the witches had said about his friend Banquo and how his son would be king after him. By this time Macbeth’s ambition to be king has become greater than his friendships. Realizing that he could end up just like Duncan, he decides that if he or his kids cannot be king than no one can be king, “Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown And put a barren scepter in my gripe, Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand, No son of mine succeeding. For Banquo’s issue have I files my mind; For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered. (p 280)” and decides that Banquo and his son need to be killed. He will have a dinner and Banquo is invited, but Banquo and his son were going horseback riding. Macbeth saw this as a perfect opportunity to have them both killed. He hired murderers to do the job. Banquo was killed but his son escapes.
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As time passes and he and Lady Macbeth are suspected of all the murders that have taken place, Macbeth decides to kill the one who flees the country to get an army together to overthrow Macbeth, Macduff. When he learned of this he decided since Macduff was not there he would kill his family. By this time Macbeth’s ambition had turned into violence just as his wife’s.
At the beginning of the play Lady Macbeth’s ambition to have position and power led her to convince her husband to kill the King. She acted almost emotionless by saying that water would clean them from their deed, “A little water clears us of this deed: How easily is it then! (p 269)” During middle part of the play, she is not in the play. But when she does appear she tells Macbeth that he should not hide out them people will know that something was up. He tells her that it is best that she not know what was going on. By this time he returns to the witches to find out what happens now that Banquo’s son has escaped. He is given three apparitions. The most important one is the second one, “The pow’r of man, for none of woman born Shall harm Macbeth. (p 297)” Macbeth knew that every man had to be born of a woman, so he thought he was invincible. The last apparition had said that the woods would march and defeat him.
Meanwhile at the castle, Lady Macbeth was caught sleepwalking by the gentlewoman and she also noticed that Lady Macbeth could not be in a dark room without a candle lit. The gentlewoman had called the doctor to investigate what was happening. When they had seen Lady Macbeth walking one they saw her washing her hands saying, “Out, damned spot! Out, I say! (p 314)” She spoke of the murders that her and Macbeth had done. The doctor knew that she was saying things that God had only knew. He told the gentlewoman to watch her very closely as she sleeps. That night after the doctor left Lady Macbeth had killed herself. Her guilt that she thought was washed away with water was her death.
After Macbeth had left the witches he was very confident that he would not be hurt because everyman was born of a woman and the woods cannot march. As he sits in his castle he thinks he is safe. He then learns of the death of the queen. The news of the woods moving comes to his attention and he is ready to battle. But the men in his army do not stand behind him. As he kills the men entering his castle he begins to battle Macduff. Macbeth then tells Macduff while fighting that he may not kill him because he is to die of a man not born of a woman. Macduff the warns Macbeth, “Despair thy charm, And let the angel whom thou still served ell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb Utimely ripped. (p 323)” Macbeth then lays down his sword knowing that he has met his dumb.
Lady Macbeth was a very important role in this play; she was the antagonist and pushed Macbeth to become an animal. Her main role was to introduce Macbeth and to help the reader to understand more about him. She questioned his manhood to get what she wanted. Lady Macbeth eventually began to feel bad for her crimes and it haunted her where she was most safe, her sleep. The more and more she pushed Macbeth the more willing he was to do it himself. By the end of the play, Macbeth had no emotions and stopped at nothing to remain king. This play showed that ambition would lead to violence and to murder.
2. What role does Lady Macbeth Play? How important is she to the audience’s understanding of Macbeth’s character? Does she serve other functions?