Saturday, December 22, 2012

Macbeth: " .... I have given suck, and know"

..... I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.

These words uttered by Lady Macbeth while convincing him to commit the murder of Duncan. hen his wife greets King Duncan who visits their castle, Macbeth whisper to himself that he should not kill the King. During this, Lady Macbeth enters and goads him into killing his guest. She tells him that she knows the tenderness of having a child. Yet, she may smash his brain if she know that he will be coward like his father.. This cruel image makes Lady Macbeth famous for her fortitude and great determination. However, critics consider Shakespeare's description of Lady Macbeth a round image with two sides; the evil character and the weak one.

As being the fourth witch according to some critics' opinion, she becomes the driven force behind Macbeth's actions for power. Early in the play, Lady Macbeth determines in her long soliloquy to make her husband kill King Duncan. Within the soliloquy, she invokes the devil to inhabit her soul in a very fiery way. Also, he cruelty is in evidence when she asks the devil to remove her feminine side. At this point, she wishes that she would not be a woman so that she can do the murder itself.

When she meets her husband, she has already plotted Duncan's murder. Thus, she greets Macbeth in the same way of the witches. This proves that she is cruel like them. Hence, Lady Macbeth is stronger, more ruthless and more ambitious than her husband. The themes of the relationship between gender and power is the key to Lady Macbeth's character. Her husband implies that she is a masculine soul inhabiting a female body.

Lady Macbeth manipulates her husband with remarkable effectiveness, overriding all his objection. When he hesitates to murder, she repeatedly questions his manhood until he feels that he must commit the murder to prove himself. Lady Macbeth's remarkable strength of will persists through the murder of the king. It is she who steadies her husband's nerves immediately after the crime has been perpetrated. Furthermore, some critics consider Lady Macbeth a vampire because she returns to the room and sees the murder and the blood without feeling frightened.

On the other hand, some critics see her famous soliloquy as a clear evidence of Lady Macbeth's human personality. Amid this speech, she spurns her feminine characteristics, crying our "unsex me here". This remark manifests Lady Macbeth's need to repress her tender feelings. This is evidence of the existence of such feelings inside her character, but her tender emotions towards her husband is more important for her. Her conscience is also shown by her euphemism like "this night's great business." That is, she cannot look at her deed in the face and recognize it as sheer murder.

The effect on Lady Macbeth of her trip into Duncan's bedroom is particularly striking. She claims that she would have killed Duncan herself except that he resembles her father sleeping. This is the first time Lady Macbeth shows herself to be at all vulnerable. Her comparison of Duncan to her father suggests that despite her desire for power and her harsh chastisement of Macbeth, she sees her king as a divine monarch to whom she must be loyal.

After the bloodshed begins, Lady Macbth falls victim to guilt and madness to an even greater degree than her husband. Just as ambition affects her more strongly than Macbeth before the crime, so does guilt plague her afterwards. By the close of the play, she has been reduced to sleepwalking through the castle, desperately trying to wash away an invisible bloodstain. Once the guilt overtakes her, Lady Macbeth's sensitivity becomes a weakness, and she becomes unable to cope. Significantly, she dies, signaling her total inability to deal with the legacy of her crimes. It may be a reflection of her mental and emotional state she is not speaking.  

In conclusion, Lady Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's most famous and frightening female characters. The two sides of her character provide Macbeth with a deep human view. On the one hand, she is considered to be an evil character, being the incarnation of the devil in the play. On the other hand, some critics shows her as a weak character whose love for her husband pushes her to lead his crimes.