Lady Macbeth’s not so tough after all.

We saw throughout the play Macbeth breaking down and becoming more and more insane. Macbeth’s insanity peaked, when he saw the ghost of Banquo at the banquet dinner. While he was doing this, it was Lady Macbeth who was keeping it together and tell Macbeth to snap out of it. She also made excuses for his outrageous behavior at the banquet, telling the guests not to pay attention to him because it would only make the insanity worse. In Act 5 scene 1 we get the first glimpse of Lady Macbeth’s guilt coming back to haunt her. This is seen through her sleep walking. Lady Macbeth sleep walks some nights because of the burden she has on her because of the murders that were committed. She is seen rubbing her hands together and saying, Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” (5.1), Lady Macbeth is trying to rub out the blood from the murders. We get evidence of this from, “Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.” Also Lady Macbeth could be constantly smelling blood on her hands, because of the guilt she feels about the murder of the King and Banquo. As long as Lady Macbeth has feelings of guilt she will always have blood on her hands. When the doctor tells Macbeth that his wife is distressed, you would think he would have a reaction like she did and tell her to pull herself together. Instead he brushes the problem off to the doctor and just tells him to find a way to cure her. He is more concerned with saving his country which is on the brink of destruction from an attack led by Malcolm. Scene 1 in Act 5 is the last time we here from Lady Macbeth. We only here news of her death in scene 5, which Macbeth does not seem to care about, he simply says, “She should have died hereafter. There would have been a time for such a word.” Macbeth does not seem upset by the death of his wife at all, even though she has been the one who held his sanity together. I think it is ironic how Shakespeare started this play portraying Lady Macbeth as a strong woman with a masculine role. She was basically Shakespeare’s rock. As Macbeth began to crumble as well as the kingdom she was keeping him together. In the end it was Lady Macbeth who lost her complete sanity which I think could represent the complete destruction of Scotland, which started out strong under the rule of Duncan, just like Lady Macbeth did. 

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2 thoughts on “Lady Macbeth’s not so tough after all.

  1. Megan Kalmes

    I also noticed the deterioration of Lady Macbeth’s sanity in act five. Throughout the first few acts, the readers witness the ruthless attitude of Lady Macbeth. It seems as if she will stop at nothing to gain more power. Even when Macbeth begins to have doubts about murdering Duncan, it is Lady Macbeth who convinces him otherwise. This greatly contrasts with the mental state of Lady Macbeth in act five. I am curious to know what exactly led Lady Macbeth to come to the realization of the horrible acts that were carried out with her support.

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  2. Cyrus Mulready

    This is a great analysis of Lady Macbeth's tragic turn in the play, from a powerhouse to a silent, barely-heard figure. We might relate her in some ways to Edmund, who also wreaks havoc on his world, but then turns about at the end of the play. But unlike Edmund, who has his wits about him, more or less, to the end, Shakespeare makes Lady Macbeth's final moments full of despair and psychological torment. That seems to me a very gendered response: can we not imagine Lady M remaining powerful to the end?

    Reply

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