Dramatic Techniques to Develop Tensions Between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth
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I plan to show you how William Shakespeare uses dramatic techniques to develop tensions between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, as you can probably tell my source of evidence will be Shakespeare’s play Macbeth.
Upon the audience’s earliest encounter with Lady Macbeth, their initial reaction was most probably that she was a conniving yet intelligent lady. Immediately after her introduction to the play, she is seen as controlling Macbeth, this is shown through the reading of his letter, Macbeth’s first word in the play are read by Lady Macbeth, this suggests that Macbeth has no real independence as his wife can control and manipulate him easily. This is the first dramatic technique we see and is very suttle yet very effective.
When I got my first insight into the characters, I saw that Lady Macbeth was a very smart women, in the questioning of Macbeth’s manhood as to whether he is “man enough” to commit a murder she is manipulating him to as she pleases. In there very first scene, Lady Macbeth is seen trying to change Macbeth into whatever may suit her, which is of coarse for the worst. I must note that at this stage there is no tension between the two characters and Macbeth has no plans of killing anyone and is happy with his current life.
In the beginning Lady Macbeth believes that her husband is “too fill o’th” milk of human kindness, showing that she doesn’t believe that her husband has what it takes to commit murder, this itself begins to add to any tension already present. She wants to mould him to her perfection, which would be to “look like the innocent flower” but “be the serpent underneath”, she goes on to describe Macbeth as “a book where men may read strange matters” meaning that everyone can see that he is uncomfortable with something and the murder of king Duncan would lead all suspicion to him. Throughout this scene we never see any affection being shown by either character, as if there is no authentic love between the two, it is as if their relationship is strictly business and no pleasure.
Macbeth seems very strong on the battlefield and to other members in play nevertheless, behind closed doors it would appear that he is quite the opposite, it would appear that he is week and timid, almost afraid of his wife, he is always very content with staying in the background and letting his wife assume the dominant position in the relationship, as if he has no voice of his own, as if he is Lady Macbeth’s puppet of which her hand is firmly up the rectum.
Before the murders take place Lady Macbeth prays to the spirits that she may be “unsexed”, a transformation, to possess qualities inapt for any man or woman, such as not having a conscience, hence being able to murder and not feel any compunction, being able to live unaffected by her treacherous sins. Upon praying to be “unsexed”, I believe she realises what is truly at stake, and it is in realising this that she crumbles, unable to handle the pressure of the “deed”, she pleas to the spirits that the deed “must not be thought of/ After these ways, it will make us mad”, she loses her ability to cope with the nervous tension, she finds herself in a constant worry, and although it is her idea she says it will make “us” mad, this suggests that even though it is her idea if they were to get caught she would portrait Macbeth as to having if not just as much to do with it then more.
Lady Macbeth is a power hungry women, the whole idea of her having power excites her. It may appear that she wants her husband to be king but, she just wants the power that will come along with it, look at the sort of power she demands on having over Macbeth, and that is her husband, imagine her ruling the entire country.
Near the end of the play, during Lady Macbeth’s breakdown, Macbeth begins to take charge of his own fate, it seems as Lady Macbeth crumbles and loses power, the more powerful and confident Macbeth grows. He now becomes assertive and wants to become the most powerful, maybe it is here that is the beginning of his downfall, the tension between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is so great that it could be cut with a knife.
As the play draws to an end Macbeth and Lady Macbeth seem to have grown apart, as they were both faced with problems instead of going to each other like husband and wife should, they go further away from each other, this shows they no longer have faith in each other like they did in the beginning, if you can remember the whole reason they’re in this predicament now is because Macbeth was willing to kill for his wife.
Macbeth, having become smarter sees his inevitable doom and believes his life is now travelling at a “petty pace”, this emphasises the point that he does now believe his fate is upon him and is now only being lengthened, he refers to “life as a candle”, and knows that eventually even the largest of candles blow out, he actually longs for the candle to burn out which suggests that like his wife, the anguish has become unbearable.
Macbeth is slowly becoming a madman and believes that life is “a tale/ told by an idiot”, he believes that life isn’t real but a mere representation of the real thing, I believe that it is from here that Macbeth loses all control and no longer has the aptitude to think logically, his says “O full of scorpions is my mind” suggesting that his head is filled with venomous consuming thoughts that are slowly consuming him.
Lady Macbeth can no longer take the pressure and commits suicide, but before doing so she was focused on a spec of blood on her hands which was placed there by her mind, by this stage she had lost all strength, physical as well as mental and has been driven to insanity, it is here when she decides enough is enough and takes her own life, possibly the smartest move she makes during the play.
I hope I have shown you how Shakespeare uses dramatic techniques to develop tensions between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth effectively, and how a once happy couple were driven apart as well as to insanity.