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Impression of Lady Macbeth in Act 1 Scenes 5-7 and Act 2 Scene 2

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  • Pages: 6
  • Word count: 1353
  • Category: Macbeth

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My primary impressions of Lady Macbeth at the beginning of the play are that she is a Lady unlike any other. She has her own mind and is literate opposite to most women who were nice to look at but moronic. In Act 2 scene 2 her character is constant but seems more authoritative. This is portrayed in the way she speaks to Macbeth in a very stern manner and full of instruction. This is very interestiong because in Act 5 scene 1 it changes again, there is a direct contrast to the impression we receive in act 2 scene 2 because she is a strong commanding woman who changed into a weak scared woman.

In Elizabethan society and theatre women were looked down upon and couldn’t go to school or work as they were supposed to stay and organise the household. Unlike women, men were given respect and their only job was to pay the bills. In theatre it was the same case, women were not allowed to go on stage so men had to play the parts of women. This meant they had to be very passionate and very good at acting in order for their character to be believable even though everybody knew it was a man, that element was still important. Male relatives also controlled any property that the women had.

In act 1 scene 5 my first impression of Lady Macbeth is that she has at least two sides to her, she is kind, rational, and strong but wants to be ruthless and is also quite calculating. She also appears to be a woman of intelligence. I can visualise Lady Macbeth as being quite tall and thin with long dark hair. I can also imagine her being very attractive and that sometimes the way she looks makes people do things for her. Lines 16-18 talk about how she is, people look at her as if she is sweet with no ambition like most of the Elizabethan women but deep inside she knows she has ambition and a life. She begins to talk about her wishes in line 21. She knows she has potential, a lot more than the average woman and seems to be very passionate. Lady Macbeth is determined to see her husband put aside his “milk of human kindness” to fulfil the ambitions she has for him. She rejects her feminine nature by saying “Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here and fulfil me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty. At this point Lady Macbeth puts herself in Macbeth’s situation. There is also an instance of dramatic irony here because a man was saying it so it would have had to have been dramatic and powerful.

Lady Macbeth’s desire to succeed in this will-to-cruelty becomes clear when she instigates her husband to kill Duncan, with the words “I give suck and know how tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me; I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this”. She persuades Macbeth to kill Duncan by making him believe things are better than they really are by telling him to put on a faultless face in an attempt to cheer him up “Only look up clear. To alter favour ever is to fear. Leave all the rest to me.” Lines 69- 71 (act 1 scene 6). She also cleverly uses words with double meaning like ‘provided for’ meaning or killed; ‘business’ meaning or murder and ‘dispatch’ meaning or killing.

She uses these words to test Macbeth to conceal how bad what he has to do is and see how he will react to the possibility of murder. She also makes him feel guilty and meagre by saying, “What beast wasn’t then. That made you break this enterprise to me? Lines 48-49. She says “to me” as if she is something almost like a force not to be reckoned with. She tells him about how great it would be if he killed Duncan “Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life meaning The crown which she refers to as the highest achievement of life act 1 scene 7. Lady Macbeth plays mind games with him by making him want to murder Duncan in order to prove his manhood. She calls him a “coward” line 43 act 1 scene 7 which makes him then go on to say “I dare do all that may become a man ” line 46 act 1 scene 7. Macbeth is undone by his inability to hold his own moral ground, his constant need to feel secure and his need to prove his manhood to his wife despite feeling extremely scared.

After the murder Lady Macbeth is very practical and sharp with Macbeth, she tries to make Macbeth overlook what he has done even though he feels extreme guilt. She cannot stand him talking about how sorry he is as it frustrates her. She tries to be as nice as possible and says “consider it not so deeply” line 33 (Act 2 scene 2) and “These deeds must not be thought…it will make us mad”. Lines 37-38 (act 2 scene 2) despite her continued false comfort he is obviously distraught by his actions which conveyed in line 46 (act 2 scene 2) “Macbeth shall sleep no more” After Macbeth’s guilt and continued worry Lady Macbeth begins to get frustrated and asks him why is crying. She does not want to turn like Macbeth (full of guilt) so she dismisses his hallucinations and as she looks away from his face she notices the two daggers he used for the murder covered in blood. At this point she immediately snaps at her husband “Go get some water and wash this filthy witness from your hand. Why did you bring these daggers from the place? They must lie there. Go carry them and smear the sleepy grooms with blood” lines 50-53 (act 2 scene 2). Lady Macbeth presumes that by washing away the blood from the daggers it will clear the evidence as well as the whole situation and make them forget. Macbeth consequently refuses but he could have stood up for himself more.

Despite her initial calmness and calculation, In act 5 scene 1 Lady Macbeth is initially conquered by inner demons. In a sleepwalking scene, she reveals her guilty feelings and tries to wash invisible blood from her hands. You can see this in line 22 “Look how she rubs her hands”. Whilst sleepwalking Lady Macbeth quotes fragments of words from conversations she and Macbeth had about the murders of Lady Macduff, Banqo, and Duncan- she is tortured by the images of these murders and she continually has flash backs of the murders. Her death is reported a few scenes later. This act is completely ironic to what she said to Macbeth after the murder about him brushing away his fears. Consequently he ends up being a mass murderer and the things she ‘brushed’ away came back to haunt her. After the murder Lady macbeth begins to speak in prose which was spoken by the lower class community and not the upper class who spoke in blank verse. This signifies how Lady Macbeth’s character has disintegrated and she has gone mad.

Lady Macbeth is very self aware at the beginning of the play and almost very strong and mean. She rules her husband and is very determined. Although, when she wants something she somehow changes into a sweet, innocent person to get her own way, then goes back to her normal abusive character when her sweetness isn’t working. Therefore getting her very frustrated. Between Act 2 scene 2 and Act 5 scene 1 her character has disintegrated and she has turned pitiful and feeble and all of her majesty has gone. Act 5 scene 1 in a sense is a weak portrait of the same woman we saw in Act 2 scene 2.

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