Sunday, September 15, 2019

His fiend-Like Queen” is Malcolm’s View of Lady Macbeth at the End of the Play Essay

Act 1 Scene 5 is the first scene where you see Lady Macbeth. In this scene we are told a lot about Lady Macbeth’s character and her relationship with husband, Macbeth. The scene opens with Lady Macbeth reading a letter from Macbeth, which brings our attention to two main points. Firstly, Lady Macbeth is literate, which was very unusual at the time and tells us that she may be a well-educated character. Secondly, it shows us that she is very close to her husband; it wasn’t a common thing to write to your wife from the battlefield because many generals didn’t have the time, but Macbeth has made the time to do this. The content of the letter also shows us a lot; Macbeth tells his wife everything that happened to him in his encounter of the witches, which shows us that he is able to trust his wife. In the letter Macbeth tells his wife that the witches said, ‘Hail King that shalt be!’ When Lady Macbeth reads this her thoughts, just like Macbeth’s, jump straight to murder: ‘that which rather thou dost fear to do/Than wishest should be done.’ Lady Macbeth is determined that Macbeth shall be king and never actually mentions what she will gain from this, ‘Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be/What thou art promised.’ Lady Macbeth appears to know her husband well, ‘†¦yet do I fear thy nature, /It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness.’ This also tells us a lot about Lady Macbeth herself; even after Macbeth has been on the battlefield killing hundreds, most people would see the fact that he could come home and be kind as a great thing, but Lady Macbeth sees this as his weakness. This is thinking very much like the witches ‘foul is fair, and fair is foul.’ Lady Macbeth’s character has many attributes, which may be associated with evil and which is, in turn, part of the witches’ characters. The first of these is the fact that Lady Macbeth is very manipulative: ‘That I may pour my spirits in thine ear.’ She speaks of ‘the Raven’ which is a bird associated with death. When she hears that Duncan will be coming to the castle she immediately thinks that this is the perfect opportunity to kill him, she refers to ‘the fatal entrance of Duncan.’ She calls to the spirits for help: ‘Come you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here†¦. make thick my blood, / Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse†¦. Come to my woman’s breast/And take my milk for gall,’ In this speech she is asking the spirits to take her womanly tendencies away from her so that she is able to kill Duncan without feeling remorse and without those feminine feelings or attributes that may weaken her. In Shakespeare’s time witches were linked with the devil and gave away their femininity when they linked themselves to him, therefore when Lady Macbeth willingly asks for her feminine characteristics to be taken from her own body, she links herself to the supernatural, and therefore the witches. The speech also tells us that Lady Macbeth doesn’t believe that she is normally able to kill someone; she thinks that this is the only way she will be able to do it and is trying to convince herself that she is evil throughout the scene. What is said in this speech is very similar to the one Macbeth makes, when he asks himself to not think about the treason and murder he is committing. This makes another link between Macbeth and his wife when Lady Macbeth says: ‘Come thick night/And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell’. This line shows us a lot, first that it reflects Macbeth’s, ‘Let not light see my black and deep desires’. The fact that she speaks of night links her to the witches, since night is the witches’ element. This line also links her subtly to the main dark themes of the play. Lady Macbeth has a very strong character and is very controlling, which was a characteristic uncommon at the time: ‘†¦and you shall put/This night’s great business into my dispatch.’ She is taking everything into her own hands and seeing all the opportunities she has at that moment, but is failing to see further than that, to the consequences that may come about from her actions. In this scene Lady Macbeth does come across as having an evil nature. She is manipulative and is able to think about killing someone without much second thought, as well as able to link herself to the supernatural and destroy her feminine body in search of a greater power. In scene 6 Duncan arrives at Macbeth’s castle in Inverness. In this scene the first thing the reader realises once you have read it is the dramatic irony in it; Duncan says ‘ The air / Nimbly and Sweetly recommends itself/Unto our gentle senses’ and is talking about how nice the castle is when he is in fact very unsafe at Macbeth’s castle. This scene is also a very good example of Lady Macbeth’s deceiving abilities; she is ‘sweet-talking’ Duncan and being kind, ‘All our service, /In every point twice done then doubled’ and ‘To make their audit at your Highness’ pleasure’: she is being the perfect hostess. She is almost over doing the acting in the way she is flattering him so much, ‘Still to return your own’. Lady Macbeth is very two faced and hypocritical in this scene ‘We rest your Hermits.’ She is taking up Duncan’s reference to prayer, ‘How you shall bid God ‘ild us for your pains’, and this is hypocritical because of the prayers that she made to the ‘spirits/That tend on mortal thoughts’ about taking away her womanly aspects. Scene 7 opens with Macbeth contemplating the plan to murder Duncan. He comes up with three strong reasons why he shouldn’t kill him: ‘First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, /Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,’ but there is still a present desire to be King. Lady Macbeth then comes into the scene and does not like what Macbeth is saying. She starts by putting him ‘on the back foot’ by answering his questions with more questions: ‘Macbeth: How now? What news? Lady Macbeth: He has almost supped. Why have you left the chamber? Macbeth: Hath he asked for me? Lady Macbeth: Know you not he has?’ This is where Macbeth tries to take charge and tells lady Macbeth ‘[They] will proceed no further in this business’ and he tells her that he is happy, ‘I have bought/ Golden opinions from all sorts of people’. She doesn’t take this into account and starts attacking. She starts by emotionally black mailing him, questioning his love for her, ‘Such I account thy love’, asking that, if he says that he wishes to be King and then take it back, how can she trust that he really does love her when he says it. She then attacks his ego, suggesting he is a coward even after he has come back from killing thousands of people on the battlefield: ‘Wouldst thou have that/Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, /And live a coward in thine own esteem.’ She compares him to the cat, which would never go for the fish, ‘Like the poor cat I’thage?’ She is asking him a rhetorical question, putting the thought into his head that he has the desire but not the guts to seize his dreams. She then attacks his manhood: ‘What beast was’t then? That made you break this enterprise to me? When you durst do it, then you were a man; / And to be more then what you were, you would be so much more the man.’ Then to prove her point further, and show us the length she is forcing herself mentally to convince herself she is truly evil, she presents this horrible image: ‘How tender’tis to love the babe that milks me-I would while it was smiling in my face Have plucked my nipple from it’s boneless gums, and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done.’ After this Lady Macbeth manages to sway Macbeth back to the murder with her certainty: ‘Macbeth: If we should fail? Lady Macbeth: We fail? But screw your courage to the sticking-place, And we’ll not fail.’ She is almost mocking him with the ‘we fail?’ making him feel small with the suggestion of it. Then she asserts her control over him again with ‘And we’ll not fail.’ She then shows us how she is a practical by explaining her plan to Macbeth; ‘His spongy officers, who shall bar the guilt / Of our great quell?’ This speech really convinces Macbeth to go through with the murder and proves once again that, at this point, Lady Macbeth really does have control over Macbeth. This scene shows that Lady Macbeth has many evil traits; she is manipulative and controlling. She is also a very practical woman with her plan. Act 2 Scene 2 opens up with a short soliloquy from Lady Macbeth and the content of this soliloquy is quite contradictory; whereas in Act 1 where Lady Macbeth comes across as very confident, here she says ‘What hath quenched them hath given me fire’ suggesting that maybe she isn’t a naturally confident person and is trying to be. She comes across as being nervous and jumpy, ‘Hark! Peace! It was the owl that shrieked.’ She lacks confidence in her husband: ‘Th’ attempt and not the deed Confounds us.’ Just from hearing Macbeth say, ‘Who’s there? What ho!’ she jumps to the conclusion they have failed in plan. Next we see a whole new side to Lady Macbeth ‘Had he not resembled My father as he slept, I had done’t.’ This is proof that maybe Lady Macbeth has a heart and is not the cold heartless person she tries to make herself out to be. This is also an example of her stupidity; she doesn’t make the connection between what she says and what she does. Lady Macbeth isn’t a very understanding woman, another sign that she isn’t very clever: when Macbeth comes in he is traumatized by what he has just done, instead of Lady Macbeth being caring and understanding she gets angry at him, ‘Why did you bring these daggers from the place? They must lie there. Go carry them, and smear / The sleepy grooms with blood.’ When Macbeth looks at his bloody hands and says, ‘This is a sorry sight.’ Lady Macbeth replies with ‘A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.’ That is also a sign of her practicality she is trying to get Macbeth to not dwell on his thoughts. Then there is also another sign of nervousness between them both with the short exchanges when they first meet: ‘Macbeth: When? Lady Macbeth: Now. Macbeth: As I descended? Lady Macbeth: Ay.’ Lady Macbeth isn’t very understanding at all of what her husband is going through and tells him, ‘Consider it not so deeply.’ In act 2 scene 3 we see examples of Lady Macbeth’s practicality and ability to act. The scene opens with Macduff and Lennox entering, wishing to see the King and then finding him dead. Lady Macbeth enters and we see how her acting abilities are still strong, with her pretending she has no idea what has happened ‘What’s the business,’ and it comes across that she genuinely doesn’t seem to have an idea about what is going on. There is the irony of Macduff calling her, ‘O gentle lady,’ when earlier we are given these horrible images by her, ‘And dashed the brains out’. She then manages to keep up the charade by coming across as horrified by the death of the King, ‘Woe, alas! / What, in our house?’ Macbeth then enters and starts to give these flowery speeches: ‘The wine of life is drawn,’ and ‘his gashed stabs looked like a breach in nature’: when these are compared to the initial reaction of Macduff, ‘O horror, horror, horror!’ they appear to be prepared. Lady Macbeth can see this and sees how this is getting her husband into deeper trouble and she faints, drawing the attention away from her husband, another example of Lady Macbeth’s practicality and affection for her husband, she wishes to protect him. It is also possible that the vivid descriptions her husband has given, ‘His silver skin laced with his golden blood’, has really shown to her what they have done and the shock of this may have caused her to faint. It may have also been due to shock in the change of her husband, before this he was a wreck at the thought of what he had done: ‘I am afraid to think what I have done.’ now he is able to lie with apparent ease, talking about the man he murdered so highly, and the guards he murdered while they were still sleeping. She scared at what her husband has become. By the end of act 2 we have seen cracks in Lady Macbeth’s visage, she is not as strong as she believes she is and she lacks the imagination to see this. In Act 3 Macbeth is now King and Lady Macbeth is the queen. The scene opens with Banquo’s soliloquy, then the full royal court entering and Lady Macbeth greets Banquo with great gusto, ‘ If he had been forgotten, / It had been as a gap in our great feast’. After there has been much chatter between Macbeth and Banquo, Banquo leaves and Macbeth dismisses everyone including his ‘Dearest love’: before he was always with her and needed her opinion on decision and she was very much in control. Is this a suggestion that Macbeth doesn’t feel he needs her guidance now or is he trying to be the man Lady Macbeth tried to suggest he wasn’t? She must being feeling rather insignificant now and most probably hurt that after what they had just done that he could dismiss her like that. Act 3 scene 2 opens with Lady Macbeth asking permission to see her husband, ‘Say to the King, I would attend his leisure / For a few words.’ This is very strange because before Lady Macbeth would never have had to ask to see her husband. Does this mean she has lost the power she had over her husband and isn’t in control like she use to be? We then see that Lady Macbeth isn’t the evil person she made herself out to be; we see she is hurting from what has happened: †Tis safer to be that which we destroy, / Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.’ Macbeth then enters and Lady Macbeth forgets about her worries and starts trying to comfort Macbeth, ‘what’s done is done.’ But she isn’t taking her own advice, she is, ‘without content’. Macbeth then talks about his torment and uses this vivid imagery, ‘O full of scorpions is my mind,’ Macbeth then drops hints that something is going to happen, ‘there shall be done / A deed of dreadful note.’ In this same speech Macbeths also uses the imagery of creatures associated with evil and death: ‘The shard-borne beetle’ so we can assume he is talking about the plan to kill Banquo. Lady Macbeth is properly feeling very confused at this point, before Macbeth included her in all the discussions and now she has no idea what he is talking about, ‘What’s to be done?’ So by the end of this scene we have truly seen the soft and ‘feminine’ side to Lady Macbeth: we have also seen the first signs of her coming collapse. We have seen examples of her love for Macbeth by casting aside her own worries to try to look after him. The first key point about Act 3 scene 4 is the notable change in Lady Macbeth’s behaviour. In Act 1 she was very welcoming and talkative with her guests coming across as being a strong character but is this scene she has lost this strong visage, she has to be prompted to welcome her guests, ‘Our hostess keeps her state, but in best time / We will require her welcome.’ After this though we are able to see some of Lady Macbeth’s old characteristics, when Macbeth is distracted with talking to the Murderers, Lady Macbeth notes that he is away too long and reminds him he is holding a dinner, ‘You do not give the cheer,’ an example of her practicality. Soon after Macbeth he rejoins the dinner he mental state deteriorates, when he sees Banquo’s ghost. Lady Macbeth steps in here with her practicality and tries to bring her husband back while passing off his madness as having some sort of fit: ‘My lord is often thus, / And hath been from his youth’ She is finally able to bring him back by attacking his ego again by repeating the line, ‘Are you a man?’ She is then fairly harsh to Macbeth mocking what he said earlier in the play, ‘This is the air-drawn dagger which you said / Led you to Duncan.’ We see her lack of imagination, ‘You look but on a stool.’ She is still unable to understand why Macbeth is suffering. Lady Macbeth is then able to bring Macbeth back to reality, where he starts acting normal but then mentions Banquo again, this sets Macbeth off again as the ghost reappears and he goes mad. Lady Macbeth steps in once again with her practicality and gets rid of the court so she can attend to her husband and before he is able to say to much about the murders, ‘Stand not upon the order of your going. / But go at once.’ When the rest of the court has left, Lady Macbeth changes: her answers become short. At some point she must have realised what Macbeth had been seeing, changing how she was. Is her quietness a response to what Macbeth has become? She believed that this would only take one murder, and now Macbeth has murdered four times. She must be feeling scared, before she was very much in charge and now Macbeth is fully in control and not asking her opinions. There is already the idea of another murder in his head: ‘Strange things I have in head, That will to hand; / Which must be acted ere they may be scanned.’ By the end of this act you can see Lady Macbeth is scared and she has lost the control she had over her husband. She isn’t the strong character she was in Acts 1 and 2 only her practicality is left. Act 5 scene 1 is when Lady Macbeth has finally gone mad. Shakespeare gives little indication of time in the play, but from what we can gather a fair amount of time has passed, and over this time we can tell that he mental state has deteriorated. The scene starts off by telling us that Lady Macbeth has been sleeping walking and going through the routine of writing a letter, then reading it. I believe this refers to the letter she received from Macbeth about the witches; the letter which started the whole affair off. I think that subconsciously she is wishing for everything to go back to that moment so none of this ever happened. She enters sleep walking carrying a candle and the gentlewoman says that Lady Macbeth has, ‘light by her / continually, ’tis her command.’ This is ironic because earlier in the play Lady Macbeth says, ‘pall thee in thy dunnest smoke of hell.’ So after wishing not to see the light she can’t bare to be without it. There is then more irony in this scene, ‘Out damned spot, out I say!’ she is unable to wash the blood from her hands and to Macbeth earlier she says: ‘A little water will clear us of this deed.’ She almost repeats Macbeth’s, ‘Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hands?’: with ‘the smell of the blood still; all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.’ We can see now that she always did understand what her husband was saying, but on a subconscious level: she lacked the imagination to understand when conscious. Earlier in ‘Macbeth’ Lady Macbeth asked: ‘Come thick night / and pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,’ and now she says, ‘Hell is Murky.’ It appears that she is now in her own hell and it is terrifying. Throughout the scene there is more imagery of blood, we have Lady Macbeth mocking Macbeth about being upset about killing Duncan, now she is saying: ‘Who would have thought the man has so much blood in him.’ At first she acted as if she was fine and didn’t have a conscience, we now see that everything had built up and has been affecting her: ‘The Thane of Fife had a wife; where is she now? What, will these hands ne’er be clean?’ She is even suffering for the murders she had nothing to do with. After reading ‘Macbeth’ and carefully analysing Lady Macbeth’s actions throughout I think we are able to feel some pity for Lady Macbeth. I think she can be blamed partly for the Tragedy of ‘Macbeth’ because she did push her husband to commit the murder, but we do not fully see what her motivation for this was. My view is that she was mainly doing what she thought her husband deserved because it is obvious through the play that she is deeply in love with Macbeth. Also taking into consideration the time the play is set was it not Macbeth’s place to stick with what he originally felt and tell her that they would not murder the King? I think pity grows towards her as the play goes on; as the reader you can see a change in her character, which quite clearly shows us that she never intended for Macbeth to become the’evil tyrant’ he did become. Another reason for her to be pitied is that you can see she is in pain and suffering but she ignores this to try and comfort her husband who is more open about his suffering. This drives Lady Macbeth crazy in the end, and the idea that she died because of her love for her husband is tragic. This is why I think Malcolm’s view of lady Macbeth, ‘His fiend-Like Queen’ is unfair towards her and that it was Macbeth’s place to have put a stop to the murder which eventually led to both of their deaths.

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