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Is Lady Macbeth a Fiend-like Queen?

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  • Category: Macbeth

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Lady Macbeth is a woman of great talents. She has an ability to persuade and manipulate people. She is extremely ambitious and if she has a desire she’ll go to great lengths to fulfil it. She is also very compassionate. She is good at hiding her thoughts as she has a prominent sense of evil about her in the way she conveys her thoughts, emotions and actions. To others she may be portrayed as quite innocent as she comes across as if she would never harm anything let alone argue with it. Lady Macbeth deceives her companions and enemies with a sweet, smiley front that she fakes superbly well.

In fact, one could almost describe her as heartless. She cries for evil ‘ Come you spirits tend to mortal thoughts and unsex me here and fill me to the toe top-full of direst cruelty’ She feels a connection with the witches and spirits of evil, making obvious exclamations to reach them. However, the reason she is so evil is because she wants a sense of power together with authority and I don’t think emotionally she has much strength so forth the evil is able to entwine around her body, soul and heart and take over her ripping through any faculty of kindness she might have.

Although amongst all this greed and the stern front she portrays, I can also clearly endure a sense of vulnerability. I do not believe that Lady Macbeth is a fiend-like queen, nonetheless, I do believe that she possesses fiend-like qualities. At first she finds it easy to get the ball rolling, nevertheless, once it is rolling she can’t sustain it. She starts at the beginning of the play almost overshadowing Macbeth, as though she has the power over him. This is clear as she tells Macbeth to leave it up to her, ‘ Leave all the rest to me.’ This shows she is in control of the situation. He orders him to do something but says she’ll handle the rest of it. Giving orders to he own husband. This later is contradicted as she kills herself. , ‘The queen, my lord, is dead.’ She becomes too weak. This shows that throughout the play, as well as deceiving other people, she is also deceiving herself. Lady Macbeth believes she has the strength but really, she is extremely vulnerable.

I would say that she has to retain fiend-like qualities for her want to commit such evil crimes in the first place, however she has to force herself into doing so, as if she’s trying to prove something to both herself and others around her. I think that sums it up, she’s trying to be someone who she is not, someone more powerful then men, someone who is not scared o anything, and extremely vulnerable a that.

The audiences first impression of Lady Macbeth are that she is obviously ambitious which in turn makes her quite evil. In her soliloquy she implies that the only way Macbeth will become king is if he is evil be that as it may, he is too good, ‘That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false.’ It shows she has concerns for her husband. This conjures up a quality of love and kindness, but the fact she thinks he is too good and the only way to get something you want is by being evil also shows fiend-like qualities. She also knows her husband doesn’t want to gain power in that way yet is still making him. This tells us she has control over their relationship and indicates evil.

I think however, the audience doesn’t necessarily get the view that she is already evil because she has to ask for the ruthless qualities to carry out the killing of Duncan, ‘That I may pour my spirits in Thine ear, and chatise with the valour of my tongue.’ Here she is asking for spirits to almost take over her body so instead of hearing her own conscience, she hears the evil of witches. Although this could be argued as she wants to be evil. You can’t want to be evil without the quality of fiend. She calls upon the spirits, ‘come you spirits,’ and asks them to take her femininity away so that she can commit evil, ‘come to my woman’s breasts and take my milk for gall, you murd’ring ministers.

Lady Macbeth persuades and manipulates Macbeth incredibly well because at first, he thinks he is not going to kill Duncan. ‘Not bear the knife myself,’ and, ‘We will proceed no further in this business,’ telling us he would not be able to bear kill to anyone. He says there is no point in even talking about it anymore. Nevertheless she still manages to make him. She does it very deceitfully, basically in a very scornful manner. She use the things he cares about to manipulate him, ‘Such account thy love.’ Here she tells him if he doesn’t do it, he doesn’t lover her. This is definitely horrendously fiend-like; almost tricking him. Meanwhile this also shows a sense of vulnerability and naivety. The fact that she is tricking him and making him choose between her and it to get something she wants, is the behaviour somewhat like a two-year-old, intensely immature which one might think establishes a sense of vulnerability.

Another fiend-like quality which contradicts this is that she convinces Macbeth he is being a coward if he does not commit the task, ‘And live a coward in thine own esteem,’ here she is basically saying, if he doesn’t do it, he will feel weak and pathetic whilst regretting it for your entire life. You will feel inadequate by letting fear get the better of desire, ‘Letting I dare not ‘wait upon’ I would.’ She also tries to make him feel unmanly, ‘What beast,’ and as though she was with much more power than himself.’ ‘Does unmake you…have done to this.’ She comes across extremely fiend-like by doing this and horrid ‘…Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, And dashed the brains out.’ This makes her sound brutal and nasty as if she has no heart. However all of this doesn’t necessarily make her a fiend-like queen as she is persuading because she wants him to do will, she is pushing him because she wants him to be a powerful king, she is black mailing him because she wants him to be happy as she loves him.

Nevertheless, so far she seems quite fiend-like and those qualities actually overthrow any kind qualities she really has within her, however, if you look carefully into her character you will see behind all the evilness and the way she’s has dominion over Macbeth, something’s are quite beautiful and even vulnerable. When she refers to hell, she does it in a compassionate and loving way even though it’s a contradiction,’ and pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell.’ She almost says it in a fearful way and desperate. She knows she is not evil, and so is desperately calling out to be.

In act two scene two, Lady Macbeth shows a certain amount of insecurity, that she is trying to persuade herself what she is doing is wrong, tricking and lying to herself, ‘That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold.’ Here she is saying it’s not so bad because they were drunk. This in itself is fiend but the fact she is trying to over it up that its fiend and is insecure tells us that really she is not. If you are something you don’t need to try to be it and convince yourself.

She is quite sarcastic as she says, ‘Stern’st goodnight.’ This shows to a certain extent she doesn’t care and again is a fiend like quality. I think

She puts on a front because at times she is quite doubtful and cautious, ‘Alack I am afraid they have awakes,’ she is worried; if she thought it was alright, she wouldn’t have been worried but she was which shows care and love. She also has love for her family, ‘Has h not resembled my father as he slept, I had done’t.’ This shows she does care about people not just herself therefore has a heart.

Although as in Act 1 scene 5, she is trying to dominate Macbeth and persuade him, ‘A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight,’ and, ‘consider it not so deeply.’ (Which assures him) This is fiend on the surface but inside she is probably trying to protect him.

Her conscience plays on her a bit. She makes Macbeth wash away his sins, ‘Go get some water and wash this filthy witness.’ She is worried, again showing she is not fiend but just has fiend-like qualities. She continues assuring him throughout the scene, ‘My hands are of your colour, but I shame to wear a heart so white.’ This shows she will take equal blame showing she loves him.

In act 3 you can tell that both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are uneasy, ‘Is Banquo gone from court.’ This is an innocent question however it shows definite signs of worry. This again, like I have stated throughout shows that she knows what she is doing is wrong as her conscience is playing on her.

However, when we almost feel slightly sympathetic towards her, we realise that when Macbeth comes in, she puts on a front. Just before Macbeth enters in act 3 scene 2, Lay Macbeth tells her servant, ‘you regrets everything.’ ‘Nought’s had…content,’ saying nothing has been gained even though they got what they wanted, their conscience is telling us it is wrong.

When Macbeth comes in she suddenly stops and says to Macbeth, ‘How now my lord…what’s done is done.’ Lady Macbeth tells him to stop worrying about the murders. She is attempting to reassure both herself and Macbeth. I think she is trying to protect him because she is not fiend, but I think she is also trying to protect herself. After all, she was the one who convinced Macbeth in the first place to commit all the murders and evil acts and if she admits she was wrong not only will she be letting go of her pride, but she might also have to face his anger and accepting the blame. This is another ones of the traits of a fiend like queen Lady Macbeth holds.

Macbeth on the other hand is very pessimistic. He doesn’t care about hiding what he feels because he loves her and they are married, so therefore should have no secrets. ‘We have scorched the snake, not killed it,’ saying there is so much we haven’t one, it hasn’t finished, we should be worried.

However, Macbeth’s confidence begins to grow as he excludes Lady Macbeth from his plans. Lady Macbeth: ‘What’s to be done?’ Macbeth: ‘Be innocent of the knowledge,’ saying he won’t tell her, she doesn’t need to know. He becomes more fiend-like; ‘Things bad begun make strong themselves ill,’ saying its making him stronger. By doing bad deeds it is fuelling him. Hr is gaining power over his wife, which is not what she likes. She thrived on power and control, but now he’s making all the decisions and being vague about them puts dominion over Lady Macbeth making her uneasy and weak. Linking back to the original argument, it tells us that she is now extremely vulnerable and incredibly lacking in fiend-like qualities in comparison to when she was in control.

In act 3 scene 4, there is one line, which sums up; Lady Macbeth is not fiend, but just at times, fiend-like. Macbeth tells her to sit in the throne while he mingles with the guests and play all nice then welcome everyone while Lady Macbeth turns around and says ‘Pronounce it or me, sir, to all our friends for my heart speaks they are welcome’. Here she is saying say the welcome because my heart welcomes them, I don’t need to tell them clarifying she is not evil deep down.

Although, going back to how Macbeth has become exceedingly conceited, ‘see they encounter thee heart thanks there’s blood upon thy face,’ he is expecting thanks, but really he does not deserve it. However, all of this is the outcome of Lady Macbeth’s persistent persuasion. Her Fiend-like selfish persuasion. He doesn’t need persuasion anymore. Lady Macbeth feels guilty for doing so, and she wants to step back a bit so when se says, ‘pronounce it for me sir,’ she gives him power.

Nevertheless, when Macbeth sees Banquo, at the banquet scene, he suddenly changes and goes quite freaky as he realises that what he’s done won’t be forgotten, it will come back round to haunt him and ver soon indeed. ‘Which of you have done this?’ He jumps to conclusion and really nobody else has a clue what he’s on about, in fact, they are completely oblivious. However he then goes on to say, ‘Ay and a bold one, that dare look on that which might appal the devil. Although he seems very vigilant and perturbed, this again is acutely egotistical. He is basically saying nefarious deeds are making him strong. Deeds so bad they appal the devil.

Lady Macbeth does what she always does. Her ‘old ways’. She covers up by telling the guests he’s always like this, ever since he was a child he has been. ‘My Lord is often thus, and hath been from his youth.’ But then she pulls him to one side as before, she was dragging him away from what is judicious but now she is having to bring him back to his senses, convincing him it is nonsense, ‘O proper stuff this is the very painting of your fear,’ saying everybody’s going to become suspicious of him if he doesn’t stop and think rationally.

In Act 5 Scene 1 Lady Macbeth sleepwalks. This conveys to the audience a suffering. During this scene, we see the truth, and how Lady Macbeth really feels, and to a certain extent, I don’t think she knows she’s feeling this either. Lady Macbeth is extremely vulnerable, and anxious about the whole situation. I don’t think she is convinced she will be able o keep it secret. This is because she washes her hands (mimes washing her hands), believing that they still have blood on them. This shows that she doesn’t think she has covered up her tracks. Constantly washing her hands over and over again. Lady Macbeth thinks she is unclean. Whilst doing so she exclaims, ‘what will these hands ner’ be clean? …Heres the smell of blood; all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand’ By this she is saying, that nothing will ever be able to clean her hands. She’ll always sense the blood on her hands and so too the guilt. This proves that she is not fiend, if she were to be fiend, she would feel no guilt to what she has done, but the fact it keeps going round in her mind shows that really, she is as insecure as anybody else would be.

Overall, Lady Macbeth is not as confident as she makes out, and I think its that confidence that makes people believe that she is fiend-like, but in fact as the audience later becomes aware, as the play progresses, she becomes less and less sure of what she is doing and is less and less unable to keep up the confident front. Of course she has fiend-like qualities and at first you would believe she is fiend but when you closely, you really see that she is not.

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