Face And Lady MacBeth

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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"There's no art to find the minds construction in the face" (1.4.14/15). Duncan, who was the King of Scotland in William Shakespeare's Macbeth, said this. When Duncan says this, it was after he had found out that one of the Thanes of Scotland was trying to commit treason against him. Another thane named MacBeth, nobly slain the other thane in battle and was given his title. Previous to getting the second title as Thane of Cawdor, MacBeth had an encounter with three witches. These witches greeted him as the Thane of Glamis (which was the title he was born into), the Thane of Cawdor, and thou that shall be king hereafter. At first he did not take the witches seriously, but then though twice when the title of the Thane of Cawdor was laid upon him. He wrote a letter to his wife and told her about everything that had happened to him.

When he arrived home she manipulates and demeans his manhood so that he will kill Duncan and become king. In the beginning of the play Lady MacBeth appears as a kind wife of MacBeth's but underneath lays a scheming and treacherous woman.

The reader can pinpoint where there is a change in Lady MacBeth's aura. "Your face, my thane is as a book where men may read strange matters." (1.6.73/74). At this time in the play even though she has convinced MacBeth to kill Duncan, Shakespeare still hasn't shown her in her most evil light. On the other hand, it is at this time where she begins to become sneaky and deceiving. She compares MacBeth's face to a book saying that by the way he looks people may catch onto his thoughts, and that is killing Duncan. She tells him to be merry and look jovial because Duncan is going to stay the night at their castle. She also tells him to look like the innocent flower, but to be the serpent under it. (1.6.76-78). She continues to play with the concept of deceit by telling MacBeth to be a kind host to Duncan, but to still be ready to kill him when the opportunity came. After the stage of deception, Lady MacBeth shows the reader how evil a person she can be.

Even though the book really does not mention MacBeth and Lady MacBeth having children, there is a part in the play that shows that they do, and it also shows how cruel Lady MacBeth could be to her child. "How tender 'tis to love the babe that mikes me. I would while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I sworn to you, have done this." (1.7.63-67). This shows how wicked she truly is, when she can take her own child as she was breastfeeding it, rip it from her, and then kill it. She says this after MacBeth told her that he was not going to kill Duncan. She again tries to make MacBeth do something he doesn't want to do by laying a guilt trip on him. She says that she'd kill their own child, if that is what she had promised to him, so why is it that he will not do the same for her? Through exploitation and diminution, she again convinced MacBeth to carry out the plan of murdering Duncan.

Throughout all of the wicked, malevolence, and evil she has in her, there is a time in the play where she shares a shred of human decency with the reader. "Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done't." (2.2.16/17). She is saying that if Duncan had not looked so much like her father when he was sleeping, she would have killed him herself, instead of having her husband do it. Even though she could kill her own baby, she must have truly loved her father because she wouldn't even kill someone who looked like him. Even though this is the one time in the play where the reader can see she has a conscience, it brings up a very ironic point. If she couldn't kill Duncan because he looked so much like her father, then why is it that she could go back to Duncan's room, put the daggers in his bloody wounds, and then put it on the chamberlains? A very complicated woman indeed, Lady MacBeth represents what women back in Shakespeare's time weren't supposed to symbolize. She was strong and courageous, yet evil and conniving. Even though some may hate her, they must say that she had a lot of power and authority, and that makes her revolutionary in the role of women. When ladies were supposed to obey their husbands every command and be amiable and helpless. She was strong natured and independent. In the next few acts this could all change. She has so much pressure and isn't really needed by her husband anymore. In the beginning she was the ambitious one, urging MacBeth to continue with the plan of murder. On the other hand, when MacBeth plans to kill Banquo and Fleance, he would not tell her of that plan. Will she withstand the pressure and take charge again, or will she begin to lose control and do something to hurt her or others again. Either way, Lady MacBeth is an iniquitous, fraudulent, and malicious woman and deserves whatever bad providence falls upon her in the next few acts.