Saturday, December 22, 2012

Macbeth: Lady Macbth


Lady Macbeth is the main female character in Macbeth, who is famous for her fortitude and great determination. This deeply ambitious woman, who lusts for power and position, is the centre of a significant discussion about the role of woman. On one hand, she is considered to be an evil character, being the incarnation of evil 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.

As being the fourth witch in the opinion of some critics, she becomes the driving force behind Macbeth's action for power. Early in the play, Lady Macbeth determines in her long soliloquy to make her husband kill King Duncan. Within this soliloquy, she invokes the devil to inhabit her soul, and this is evidence that she is the devil incarnate. Also, she reveals her own cruel nature most fully in the address she then makes to the spirits of evil; "unsex me here, / And fill me of direst cruelty." Thus, she greets Macbeth in the same way of the witches; "Great Glamis, worthy Cawdor." Therefore, Lady Macbeth becomes stronger, more ruthless and more ambitious than her husband. For instance, she is so ambitious that she cannot bear even to mention the kingship directly, she can say only: "thou ... shalt be what thou are promised." This is why, unlike her husband, has no need of supernatural encouragement, and therefore why none is given to her.

The theme of the relationship between gender and power is a key to Lady Macbeth's evil character. That is, her husband once implies that she is a male soul inhabiting a female body. Similarly, Lady Macbeth manipulate her husband with remarkable effectiveness, overriding all his objection. When he hesitates to murder, she repeatedly questions his manhood till he feels that he must murder this murder to prove himself. Also, her immense strength of will persists through the murder of the king. For example, it is she who steadies Macbeth's nerve immediately after the crime; "A little water clears us of this deed." Furthermore, some critics consider Lady Macbeth a vampire as she returns to he 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 express 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." 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 may kills 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 castigation 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 sense of guilt overtakes her, Lady Macbeth's sensitivity becomes a weakness, and she is 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 verse.  

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. The direction of this view, whether for or against Lady Macbeth, depends on the cultural and directorial elements of the performance of such admirable play.