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How Does The Relationship Between Macbeth And Lady Macbeth Change Throughout The Play?

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The play Ð''Macbeth' was written by William Shakespeare in 1606, however Shakespeare set Ð''Macbeth' in the mid eleventh century. At the time in which the play is set life was much different and women played a distinct role in a family. Women were supposed to be domesticated and very maternal. They did not go to work, they stayed at home and cooked, cleaned and looked after their children. The main female protagonist in this play is the antithesis of a typical mid eleventh century woman. Lady Macbeth is a strong manipulative female who seems to be more dominant than her husband Macbeth. Lady Macbeth also does not seem at all maternal, there is evidence in the text to suggest that she has given birth before but due to lack of medical knowledge her child most likely died at birth. This experience caused her to become desensitised and released her of all maternal instinct which were the distinctive characteristics of a woman.

Ð''Macbeth' was one the four main tragic plays that Shakespeare wrote. In each of the four tragedies the main character always has a fatal flaw. A fatal flaw is the a detrimental error which leads to the downfall of a well respected protagonist. In the play the well respected protagonist is Macbeth whose fatal flaw is his ambition. Macbeth is also a typical stereotype men in the mid eleventh century. Macbeth was a loyal kinsman and a loving husband. Macbeth can be viewed as the hero at the beginning of this play because of his attitudes towards life, he values everything aspect of his life. However his ambition to become King led to his downfall, in particular, his death.

Macbeth's ambition lead him to having murderous thoughts after he meets three witches who give Macbeth and Banquo three prophecies each. This meeting is where the whole play changes because Macbeth is completely absorbed by these three prophecies. These three witches are evil and only want to manipulate Macbeth's thoughts,

Ð''All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis.

All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor.

All hail Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter.'

Banquo immediately realises that these witches are evil and chooses to ignore what has been said,

Ð''can the devil speak true?'

Shakespeare described Banquo to be the smart and decisive character in the play as it was said that James I, the King on the throne at the time of Shakespeare, was a descendant of Banquo.

After a messenger tells Macbeth that he has become Thane of Cawdor he reveals his murderous thoughts in a soliloquy,

Ð''Let not light see my black and deep desires.'

Macbeth exposes his inner most thoughts to the audience however no one else on stage can hear what is being said. Macbeth is still oblivious to the fact that the witches are evil. Almost immediately after his encounter with the witches Macbeth writes a letter to his spouse, Lady Macbeth, telling her about the three prophecies. At this point in the play their relationship is at its closest. Macbeth loves and respects his wife dearly,

Ð''My dearest partner of greatness.'

This indicates that Macbeth has an equal relationship with his wife.

Lady Macbeth is intrigued by these three prophecies and takes charge of the situation by beginning to plan King Duncan's murder. Lady Macbeth is extremely ambitious to become Queen as she too is oblivious to the manipulative ways of the witches. Lady Macbeth knows exactly what she is doing and knows that no normal women would ever plan a murder. That is why she appeals to the spirit world to Ð''unsex' her and fill her Ð''from the crown to the toe top full of direst cruelty.' Lady Macbeth also calls the spirit world to take away her femininity so that she is able to do the deed,

Ð''Come to my woman's breasts and take my milk for gall.'

This expresses that Lady Macbeth wants her life giving milk to be taken from her breasts and be replaced with poison so that she can kill, taking someone's life away.

As Macbeth enters Lady Macbeth does not show her deep love for her husband, but her ambitious desire to become Queen and instantly begins persuading Macbeth to be part of the murder. Macbeth is quite taken aback by what his wife has proposed to do as he feels that murder is not the right course of action. At this point in the play Lady Macbeth is the more dominant figure and because they have such a close relationship Lady Macbeth is able to intimidate her husband into being a part of regicide. Lady Macbeth tells her husband that he is a coward and says that she would even kill her own baby if she had sworn to do it, like Macbeth had sworn to kill Duncan.

Lady Macbeth continues her manipulation and tells Macbeth to go out and be a welcoming host and yet inside think dark and murderous thoughts,

Ð''Look like th'innocent flower, but be the serpent under it./'

This expresses some imagery to the audience and does have some biblical references as the serpent is seen as an evil and vile animal. However Macbeth is still reluctant to kill the King as he is Duncan's loyal kingsman and subject. Also Duncan is Macbeth's host and feel this is the wrong thing to do. Macbeth does not want to think about his wife's idea and we see Macbeth standing up for himself against his wife for the first time in the play,

Ð''We will proceed no further in this business.'

Nevertheless Lady Macbeth is not going to give up on her plan and begins to intimidate her husband by calling him a coward,

Ð''As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that which thou esteem's t the ornament of life, and live a coward in thine own esteem.'

Lady Macbeth asking Macbeth the question, is he too scared to do what he dreams of doing and becoming? It seems that he longs for something but he is too much of a coward to proceed with it.

Macbeth is beginning to give in to his wife's antagonising threats and eventually agrees to the murder. Macbeth is some what giving into his wife's snide comments, as if he cannot retain his own decision.

Ð''I am settled and bend up.'

The murder is drawing closer



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