The Rise and Fall of Lady MacBeth

Essay by WoodHigh School, 10th gradeA+, December 1996

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Lady Macbeth's character is one of complexity; slowly, but continuously changing throughout the play. What begins as a struggle for power and a longing to shred her femininity turns Lady Macbeth into what she fears most - a guilt ridden weakling.

In the beginning ( I, v, 43-54) , we see Lady Macbeth reacting to the news of her husbands success and King Duncan's visit. This ignites her lust for power. In the quote "...unsex me here, / And fill me from the crown to the toe top full/ Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;.../ Come thick night,/ And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,/ That my keen knife see not the wound it makes," Lady Macbeth talks of wanting all of the cold blooded aspects of "manliness" so she can kill King Duncan with no remorse - she sees herself as having these qualities more than her husband, and because of this, in a sense, wishes to shed her womanhood.

We can see this ruthless nature more in depth in the quote "I would, while it was smiling in my face,/ Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,/ and dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you/ Have done to this" (I,vii,56-59) She is obviously a very bitter female, frequently referring to her role as a woman, both physically and emotionally in negative ways. In the above quote, Lady Macbeth is commenting on her husband's lack of gall, stating, that quite frankly, she would make a better man than he.

Although still a very strong woman, we see the first signs of weakness in Lady's Macbeth's character in Act II, Scene ii, 12-13. She says, "Had he not resembled/ My father as he...