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In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the demise of Macbeth, a Scottish soldier, is displayed as he follows a path of darkness and despair seeking the crown. While many factors can contribute to the tragedy of Macbeth, the wife of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, can be seen as the main cause to the downfall of her husband and even herself. Throughout her disastrous life, Lady Macbeth significantly impacts the life of her and her husband through things such as the role she plays in Macbeth’s life, her evil tendencies, and her power over Macbeth. With this, most of Macbeth\’s actions are greatly influenced by his wife. Lady Macbeth’s ambition allows her to control Macbeth with ease which leads them to succumb to evil and greed.
The role Lady Macbeth has in her husband’s life is crucial to understand why Macbeth made the decisions he did which ultimately lead to his demise. For example, when she motivates her husband to act more ruthless, “Yet I do fear thy nature. It is too full o’th milk of human kindness” (Macbeth 1.5.15-16), all in order to become king. This signifies the method Lady Macbeth uses to manipulate her husband by making him question himself and persuading him to change so they can succeed in fulfilling their destiny. In pursuing the crown, Lady Macbeth shows coldheartedness in the murder of King Duncan, “Art thou afeard? To be the same in thine own act and valor As thou art in desire?” (Macbeth 1.7.39-41), however, later in the play she expresses remorse, “What we need fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?” (Macbeth 5.1.33-36). At one point, Lady Macbeth calls Macbeth a coward and questions his manhood as he hesitates in the decision to kill King Duncan. Although Lady Macbeth appears to be heartless in this point of the play, she begins to feel guilt. She expresses the same emotions her husband once did.
The pure evil and ruthless ambition shown by Lady Macbeth is an important detail in how she and her husband descended a dark path. As Lady Macbeth begins her devious plan, “Hie thee hither That I may pour my spirits in thine ear, And chastise, with the valor of my tongue” (Macbeth 1.5.24-26), she starts to persuade Macbeth to help her with it. This displays the beginning of Lady Macbeth’s obsession in becoming queen and will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. While Lady Macbeth is the mastermind behind the plan to kill King Duncan, she lacks the ability to actually kill him herself, “Had he not resembled. My father as he slept, I had done’t.” (Macbeth 2.2.13-14). This is another example of Lady Macbeth’s ruthlessness as she convinces her husband to kill the king and that the only reason she did not commit it was because he resembled her father. Lady Macbeth is blinded by her ambition and will do anything to secure the crown no matter the consequences.
Despite the fact that Macbeth becomes king after murdering the previous ruler, King Duncan, the real power lies in Lady Macbeth and her dominance over her husband. As the play begins, we immediately see the power Lady Macbeth has over Macbeth, “Your hand, your tongue. Look like the innocent flower, But be the serpent under’t.” (Macbeth 1.5.64-65). This suggests Lady Macbeth has a traditionally male role in the marriage along with many other wives in today’s society who have a greater influence and superior position in their marriages. In hopes of succeeding Lady Macbeth states, “Thou wouldst be good, Art not without ambition, but without The illness should attend it.” (Macbeth 1.5.17-19). This can be an example of Lady Macbeth forcing Macbeth to change and deceives him to be evil so he can become king. It can be inferred she has even more power than Macbeth himself since he is weak and she can manipulate him with little to no effort.
Overall, Lady Macbeth will do anything to obtain what she desires including murder and using her husband. However, it is not known whether Macbeth had free will. He may have caused his own demise as well as his wife. The method in which Lady Macbeth manipulates and controls significantly affected the fate of herself and Macbeth. The idea of becoming queen overtook her. The decisions she would regret ultimately lead to her apparent suicide and the death of Macbeth.
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