Lady Macbeth’s strong personality and ambition are the driving force in the play, and so I find it extremely odd that she exits the play so quietly, with her death offstage. I was wondering if it was a case of her character having served its purpose, but in cases like that (Christopher Sly, and the Fool from King Lear, for example) the character simply vanishes, while Lady Macbeth’s death is mentioned and mourned , although in a terribly brief speech. (“she should have died hereafter”)
While there was once a strong relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, he no longer has the time, or perhaps the capacity, to properly mourn his wife. At the start of the play, Macbeth is prone to attacks of conscience as seen in his “sleep no more” speech, while Lady Macbeth mocks his sensitivity as being a lack of manliness. By the end, any trace of sensitivity in Macbeth’s personality is blunted, and Lady Macbeth’s increased sensitivity mirrors the change in her husband’s personality.
In a tragedy, it is natural that Lady Macbeth should die, but the offhandedness of how it happens suggests that she is somehow no longer the focus of the evil behind the Macbeth’s actions. In class we discussed the implications of Macbeth telling the doctor to “cure” his wife, one interpretation meaning that he wished to have her killed in order to silence her. Throughout the play, Macbeth does not disobey his wife, but there seems to be a change in him when he acts to murder MacDuff’s family without consulting her. It seems as Macbeth slowly loses his conscience, Lady Macbeth loses her sanity. Inversely, her insanity is directly related to her increase in guilty conscience for the murder of Duncan. She becomes incapacitated by the increase in her guilt, while Macbeth becomes more able to act on his plans by his decrease in guilt.