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Lady Macbeth is Pure Evil

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In Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, we see a lot of evil; we see evil people and we see evil acts. We can see that – almost – everyone has an evil desire within them. However, only a really evil person acts on that impulse and commits something morally wrong. An evil deed doesn’t necessarily mean an evil soul; Lady Macbeth was not naturally evil. Before her and her husband came to the conclusion of killing, they had their doubts. How can someone be pure evil, if they doubt the evil that they want to commit?

Lady Macbeth’s immediate thoughts (after receiving the letter from her husband) may make her appear as an utterly nonreligious, cold and ambitious woman, but this is not so. To prepare for what she feels must be done she calls on evil spirits to, “stop up th’ access and passage to remorse”, and if she had not done this her conscience would not have allowed her to act relentlessly. This shows us that despite what we see of Lady Macbeth she is very unsure of herself and her thoughts. When she sais to her husband, “look like the innocent flower, yet be the serpent under’t”, she was being hypocritical because we see her as being the “serpent” – to her husband and when she’s on her own -, yet “underneath” she is just confused and unsure of herself. Someone so confused and unsure of them selves surely couldn’t be pure evil.

We can see that Lady Macbeth knows and loves her husband. Lady Macbeth is sure that being king is what her husband really wants and that killing is the option best for both of them. She knows him so well that she believes that he may be, “too full o’the milk of human kindness, to catch the nearest way”. She overpowers her own conscience, which enables her to later, guide Macbeth into acting upon their plans. At first Lady Macbeth succeeds in persuading her husband, but later Macbeth wavers in his decision. Lady Macbeth is quick to chasten her husband in response to his uncertainty, and she manipulates him by questioning his manhood and his love for her. She helps Macbeth to ‘realize’ that despite what his conscience was saying; killing Duncan was the first and foremost thing.

After the murder of Duncan and the crowning of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth was often unable to sleep, and when she did, she experienced terrifying nightmares. Her conscience still tore at her mind and made her sleeping uneasy, this shows us that she was feeling guilt even to the slightest degree. Can we still say that Lady Macbeth is herself, pure evil? No because people who are evil feel neither guilt nor the slightest twinge of remorse. But still we see that Lady Macbeth is able to maintain her sanity and composure during the day, even better than her husband is. She urges him to be light hearted and merry, and she practically rescues Macbeth from the frailty of his own conscience.

Later, though, the burden of Lady Macbeth’s conscience becomes too great for her and her mental and physical condition deteriorates. A gentlewoman observes her sleepwalking and consults a doctor. The doctor and the gentlewoman observe Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking, and her madly trying to cleanse her hands of the blood of Duncan and Macduff’s family. Still in her sleep, Lady Macbeth asks, “what, will these hands ne’re be clean?” foreseeing that she will never have peace of mind. She also retells events of the day Duncan was murdered. The doctor tells the gentlewoman that what Lady Macbeth needs is spiritual and not physical help. We now know for sure that Lady Macbeth is not pure evil because she has been driven mad with the guilt of her and her husband’s evil actions.

Lady Macbeth’s condition worsens, and she goes in and out of sleep with delirious visions. Macbeth asks the doctor to cure her or give her a drug that will erase the troubles of the heart. The doctor responds that he cures physical not moral problems. Later, as the battle develops outside of Dunsinane, Lady Macbeth commits suicide. We have to ask ourselves, how can one so intoxicated with guilt and remorse be in anyway made up entirely of such pure evil? The term pure evil itself is an oxymoron, because the word evil means; the quality of being profoundly immoral or wrong, yet the word pure means; Containing nothing inappropriate or extraneous; having no faults; sinless. How can something be sinless, as well as immoral and wrong?

Lady Macbeth, is both disturbingly evil (in her deeds), and yet gently pure (in her mind) at the same time. She mentally and spiritually wears down her husband until he agrees to kill, and yet when she herself is presented with the opportunity to kill Duncan, she backs out saying, ‘had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done’t’. Lady Macbeth tries to spiritually, mentally, and physically do what will please herself, and this inevitably ends up in her tragic suicide. If her mind was in such a state of turmoil then how could she possibly be branded as pure evil? The reality is that she couldn’t be pure evil.

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