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Macbeth By William Shakespeare: Characters Of Macbeth And Lady Macbeth

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Macbeth, one of the most famous plays written by the iconic playwright William Shakespeare takes mainly place in 11th-century Scotland and tells the story of a soldier that after being told by three witches that he would become king becomes consumed by ambition causing him to commit crimes such as murder. His drive became extremely strong, and he was up to do everything possible to get to the throne of Scotland. This character even became a murderer joined by his wife Lady Macbeth who would feed his terrible actions. Macbeth is the main character in this complex yet fantastic play, and he is one of the various roles which bring this play to life primarily due to how his personality changes from being a brave, loyal and faithful servant to the King to become a man entirely taken by his desire for power. In this essay, we will be exploring how Macbeth and his extraordinary wife and how they changed throughout the play as well as those factors that caused these modifications.

The play begins with a very critical scene; the three witches that are somewhat ‘predicting’ three things that will happen to Macbeth, these things consist of him becoming Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and King of Scotland. One of Macbeth’s first obstacles to following these prophecies was Duncan, the king, so in order to get all the power, he wanted he had to kill Duncan. The killing of Duncan was Macbeth’s turning point as well as one of the most critical parts of the play because it showed the difference between Macbeth in the start and how he was turning into something horrible. Before the death of Duncan Macbeth had the way of becoming king but he was very hesitant, and then had the idea of killing Duncan he thought that was a horrible image and something he would never do. ‘We will proceed no further in this business. He hath honored me of late, and I have bought Golden opinions from all sorts of people, Which would be worn now in their newest gloss, Not cast aside so soon.’ (Act 1 Scene 7) This segment of the play demonstrates Macbeth was rethinking his decision of actually killing Duncan after Duncan tells him that he is the one he admires and trusts the most. As it can be seen in this fragment removed from the text, Macbeth is showing his loyalty and respect for the king by telling lady Macbeth that they should cancel the plan and that even if this is going to cost the crown, having his loyalty is worth it. There is a second fragment in the same scene that is after Lady Macbeth convinces Macbeth to do the deed: ‘I am settled, and bend up Each corporal agent to this terrible feat. Away, and mock the time with the fairest show. False face must hide what the false heart doth know.'(Act 1 Scene 7) This piece of the text shows Macbeth’s turning point where he went from a trustworthy soldier that would never trade his loyalty to a greedy king who would do everything for power. Not only this but this shows how persuasive Lady Macbeth is towards Macbeth as well as how much power she has on him to be able to change what he believes to such an extent.

Lady Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most famous female characters for the reason that she portrayed such a strong and powerful wife to Macbeth. She would often do and say things that were not normal for women to do at this time like for example call her own husband a coward various times: ‘Was the hope drunk Wherein you dressed yourself? And wakes it now, to look so green and pale At what it did so freely? From this time Such I account thy love. Wouldst thou have that Which thou esteem’s the ornament of life, And live a coward in own esteem, Letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would, ” Like the poor cat i’ th’ adage?'(Act 1 Scene 7). The story following this quote made by Lady Macbeth is when Macbeth was doubting the plan of killing Duncan. As well as being the first time Lady Macbeth calls her husband a coward it is the first time someone can notice how she feeds her husband’s ambition and how much control she has over him. In the quote, she tells him how he should do what he wants and not be a coward by saying he cannot do it when what he wants is easy. After this quote, she eventually convinces him to continue the plan and continues to encourages him.

After killing Duncan Macbeth continued his pursuit of power and in order to do this, he had to kill his friend Banquo. In order to do this without being seen Macbeth sends a murderer to do this horrible deed and after hearing its success he is mixed with emotions. Some of these emotions consist of being pleased with what happened, but others such as guilt are taking him over and causing him to become crazy without being able to hide it such as seeing Banquo’s ghost on his chair during a feast: ‘(seeing the GHOST) Avaunt, and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee. Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold. Thou hast no speculation in those eyes Which thou dost glare with!'(Act 3 Scene 4) As seen above Macbeth has not become conscious of the fact that his guilt is somewhat coming back to haunt him along the rest of his path to become the king of Scotland.

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While his guilt was haunting Macbeth, Lady Macbeth seemed to be stronger than ever guiding her husband every time he imagined something or was questioning if what he was doing was right. This fragment follows up after Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost and starts making a scene in front of their guests, so Lady Macbeth has to set him straight in order to not seem blameworthy of anything: ‘O proper stuff! This is the very painting of your fear. This is the air-drawn dagger that you said Led you to Duncan. Oh, these flaws and starts, Impostors to true fear, would well become A woman’s story at a winter’s fire, Authorized by her grandma. Shame itself! Why do you make such faces? When all’s done, You look but on a stool.'(Act 3 Scene 4) In this fragment, Lady Macbeth tries to calm down her husband by explaining that everything is done and all these stupid hallucinations make him look like a woman telling a scary story by the fireside in front of her grandmother. This is another time in the text where she calls him a coward as well as showing him how ridiculous he is while she is still standing while remaining peaceful.

After Lady Macbeth’s suicide, Macbeth is left alone with only his thoughts and his kingdom. After being told that an English army is going to attack his kingdom, he prepares his army but is not scared because he has become so self-absorbed that he believes that no human can defeat him: ‘Bring me no more reports. Let them fly all. Till Birnam Wood remove to Dunsinane I cannot taint with fear. What’s the boy, Malcolm? Was he not born of a woman? The spirits that know All mortal consequences have pronounced me thus: “Fear not, Macbeth. No man that’s born of woman Shall e’er have power upon thee.” Then fly, false thanes, And mingle with the English epicures. The mind I sway by and the heart I bear Shall never sag with doubt nor shake with fear.’ (Act 5 Scene 3) This fragment shows not only how he has changed as a person but also how his arrogance grew with his ambition. In this, he also makes a ridiculous claim where all humans born from women cannot beat him that is quite ironic because, in the end, Macduff kills him during battle. There is a second quote where he, mentions the same claim but to Macduff: ‘Thou losest labor. As easy mayst thou, the intrenchant air With thy keen sword impress as make me bleed. Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests; I bear a charmèd life, which must not yield To one of woman born.’ Here he so filled with his ego that he tells the one that will kill him that it is impossible for that to happen because as he and Macduff were born from women and as some spirits had told him before no humans can kill him,

Only at the end of the play is when Lady Macbeth starts feeling guilty and it is at such a level that it drives her so crazy she commits suicide. They even call a doctor to see what his diagnosis is for her and his only claim is that she has gone crazy. During the doctor’s visit, she is too insane to even pay attention to him, and she keeps saying things such as: ‘Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, Oh, Oh!’ (Act 5 Scene 1) This intends that she still smells the blood even after having washed her hands for more than 15 minutes more than once. Not only that she has gone so mad that she has to tell herself to calm down continuously and that she is fine: ‘Wash your hands. Put on your nightgown. Look not so pale.—I tell you yet again, Banquo’s buried; he cannot come out on ’s grave.’ (Act 5 Scene 1) As seen once again she has to continuously reassure herself so she does not forget that Banquo is dead and cannot come to get her. Lady Macbeth from the beginning of the book seems like a whole different person compared to how she ended up becoming after being somewhat eaten up by her guilt. Lady Macbeth from the beginning of the book seems like a whole different person compared to how she ended up becoming after being somewhat eaten up by her guilt.

As seen in various examples above Macbeth and his wife Lady Macbeth are essential and incredible characters for the plot of Macbeth for the main reason, as mentioned before, of bringing this play to life. Not only that, but both characters showed different consequences of having power one being too overwhelmed and stressed with it that it kills someone and the other being that it boosts up someone’s ego to a level where he or she thinks they are invincible. Additionally to what was said before this shows how ambition can transform someone into a monster or even making them crazy such as the examples in both Macbeth and his wife.

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Macbeth By William Shakespeare: Characters Of Macbeth And Lady Macbeth. (2021, July 20). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 27, 2023, from
“Macbeth By William Shakespeare: Characters Of Macbeth And Lady Macbeth.” Edubirdie, 20 Jul. 2021,
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Macbeth By William Shakespeare: Characters Of Macbeth And Lady Macbeth [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Jul 20 [cited 2023 Sept 27]. Available from:
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