Lady Macbeth As A Catalyst To Evil

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade November 2001

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The expression "behind every man, there is a woman," rings true even in the Shakespearean tragedy Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is the catalyst that ignites the fire to Macbeth's ambition. It is because she challenges his masculinity, questions his love, and belittles his bravery that Macbeth murders Duncan. His lady provides impetus for him to abandon all honorable nature in order to achieve what they both desire. Macbeth would not have murdered Duncan and continued on a downward spiral of evil were it not for the extra push from his ruthless and overly ambitious wife.

Macbeth is filled with great hubris. Lady Macbeth plays on this pride when she challenges his masculinity. She goads him by saying, "When you durst do it, then you were a man / [. . .], you would / be so much more the man." (Shakespeare, Macbeth. 1.7.49-51). Lady Macbeth tells her husband to kill Duncan to prove that he is a man, and states how much more of a man he will be as king.

Eugene M. Waith states in his criticism Manhood and Valor in Macbeth, that "the pangs of Macbeth's conscience [. . .] are no more than effeminate, childish fears to Lady Macbeth."(64) She has a great deal of power over Macbeth; this power is the mere truth that she possesses more of a manly quality that he himself does.

Macbeth is ambitious enough to want to become king, but would not think of murdering Duncan. Because Lady Macbeth knows this, she understands the necessity to push Macbeth into performing the deed. She does this by questioning his love for her. " What beast was't then / that made you break this enterprise to me?/ [. . .] I would, while it was smiling in my face, / have plucked my...