Sunday, September 1, 2019

Analyse Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s relationship Essay

To analyse Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s relationship throughout the play and how this changes, I am going to first describe them at the start of the play, then pick key scenes which show well the change and are strong and highly dramatic. At the start of the play, Macbeth is a well-respected warrior who is well liked by Duncan. He is already Thane of Glamis and one of the first things that happen in the play is that he is made Thane of Cawdor. This is a great honour and he is highly favoured by the King. He seems to be doing well for himself. Lady Macbeth is his wife, who is also well liked. As a couple, they are in a strong marriage. They have had children, however we do not see them or hear much about them in the play. Lady Macbeth loves Macbeth a lot, but she is very ambitious. This leads to being a contributing factor to his downfall. The first scene I am going to analyse is Act I Scene VII. In this scene, Lady Macbeth is trying to persuade Macbeth to murder King Duncan. The scene opens with a long and important soliloquy from Macbeth that adds to the dramatic tension of the play. Here, Macbeth is having second thoughts. He is thinking about what would happen to him if he were caught, and what he ought to be doing as a friend of the king. He recognises the fact that he has no reason to kill the king, and knows he would be wrong to do so. In very eloquent, heightened language, referring a lot to the supernatural, he describes how awful it would be to murder Duncan, what a horrible deed he is about to commit. This is the first real sign of a human side to Macbeth, showing that he still cares and would not just murder Duncan without a second thought or any sort of a conscience. It shows that he is still human, not yet a ruthless, murdering monster, and this adds to the drama as he hesitates, then changes his mind. When Lady Macbeth enters, he is strong and decided, telling her in a definite tone that We will proceed no further in this business, and gives her his reasons. She replies by attacking his manhood, his courage and bravery. She bombards him with insults, overwhelming him and leaving him unable to fight her. He defends himself in a short sentence or two, before she carries on. This time she uses his children against him in her argument, telling him that, while breastfeeding her own child, she would have killed it if she had so promised to him that she would. This is important in showing the way the audience see Lady Macbeth, because this cruel, harsh way of addressing him makes the audience almost hate her. She is using a feminine, maternal image in a horrific way against Macbeth in order to get her own way. Macbeth is now almost convinced, so Lady Macbeth becomes very pragmatic now, taking a different approach. She assures him they won’t fail, and tells him exactly how they will carry out the murder. At this point in the play, she is definitely the stronger of the two, the driving force in the marriage, and Macbeth is full of admiration for her. She now has him so convinced that he again promises to her that he will kill Duncan. The scene ends in a decided, strong way with a rhyming couplet: False face must hide what the false heart doth know. This quote adds emphasis to the scene, and brings in the theme of pretence. The scene works particularly well because the stereotype of a married couple is reversed in this scene. The stereotype would be that the male is the stronger character, more practical, and making the majority of decisions, and the female is the one who is swayed by emotions, who has a conscience, and is gentler. However, here Lady Macbeth is the strong, driving force: ruthless, not at all emotional or feminine, and Macbeth is weaker, easily swayed by his wife. This role reversal adds drama and irony to the scene. Lady Macbeth is completely in control at this point in the play, and Macbeth seems to be fairly on top of the situation as well. As of yet, they have not lost control, or their sanity. The next scene I am going to analyse is Act III Scene IV. By this point in the play, Macbeth has murdered Duncan and is now King. In this scene, Macbeth is holding a banquet for all the Thanes and well-respected people of the land. The scene is full of pretence and hypocrisy, as Macbeth has just had Banquo murdered. It is a highly dramatic scene, and is a turning point in the play for Macbeth. The banquet starts well. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are in control of the situation, and are managing to act as a gracious host and his loving wife, speaking very eloquently and politely to their guests. Then one of Banquo’s murderers comes to the door, and things get more complicated. It is now harder for Macbeth to stay in control, but he manages and goes to the door to speak to the murderer. The way Macbeth speaks then shows that he is becoming scared, and starting to be paranoid that everyone is trying to overthrow him. A good quote to show how he feels is I am cabin’d, cribb’d, confin’d, bound in. He feels restricted and oppressed, like he can’t enjoy his kingship for all the threats. Becoming king seems like an empty victory, because it is Banquo’s line, not his, who eventually come to the throne. It is this feeling of oppression that spurs Macbeth to murder more and more people, trying to protect his kingship; therefore this feeling contributes eventually to his downfall. Macbeth finishes speaking with the murderer. Lady Macbeth politely reminds him that he has abandoned his guests, who as yet do not suspect anything, and he returns to the banquet. It is then that Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost, sat in his place at the table. He is the only one who can see it, and in his exclamations he says some incriminating things, like Thou canst not say I did it. Lady Macbeth tries to cover this up by telling the guests that Macbeth has fits, it is an illness he has had since being young. She tells them to take no notice, and to carry on with the banquet. Although she doesn’t understand what is wrong with Macbeth, she is hanging on to control of the situation. The scene is difficult for Lady Macbeth, as she is tested to the limit by being forced to play two roles: one as a host, unable to show anything which may create suspicions leading to their being found out, and another as Macbeth’s loving wife, concerned for him. She needs to find out what has happened to make Macbeth act like he is and help him to regain his composure, but cannot let the guests know they have murdered Duncan, or indeed that Macbeth has murdered Banquo. Lady Macbeth takes Macbeth aside, and scalds him. She is trying to mock him into being ashamed of his behaviour, and control things in the way she did when she persuaded him to murder Duncan. However, this time it does not work, as she has no power to affect this situation. There follows an embarrassing period of time where Macbeth says some incriminating things, and Banquo’s ghost appears and disappears in such a way that it seems to be mocking Macbeth. In the end, Lady Macbeth has to abort the banquet and send all the guests home for fear that they will start to ask too many questions and they will be found out. Macbeth and his wife speak for a while, before going to bed. Macbeth endures the death of Banquo because of his ghost. He compares murdering his best friend to all those he killed in battle. He has never been bothered by ghosts before, and is scared by this haunting. At one point during his ranting, he lists large and frightening animals: bear, tiger, and rhinoceros, and says how he would rather face any of these than the Unreal mockery of Banquo’s ghost. Later, when talking to Lady Macbeth, he acknowledges the fact that he will suffer for murdering Banquo. The supernatural are going to avenge Banquo’s death, and Macbeth cannot do anything about it. Other things that are revealed when Macbeth is talking to Lady Macbeth are that he has become very suspicious and has spies in all the Thanes’ castles. He is starting to be paranoid that everyone is out to get him, and is trying to protect his kingship. This is affecting him mentally, as he is never really at rest by the end of the play for looking over his shoulder all the time. He tells Lady Macbeth he will go to see the witches tomorrow. It seems that he no longer trusts anyone- except for the witches, whom he trusts completely. They are the least helpful characters he could possibly find, as they are only out to meddle in men’s lives, causing amusement for themselves and downfall for Macbeth. He believes they will help him, but they won’t. Putting all his trust in the witches is dangerous for Macbeth, as they lead him to believe he is invincible, which later causes him to take stupid risks. Lady Macbeth also mentions that he has not been sleeping well lately, which will be adding to his fragile state of mind. Sleep is strong theme in the play, because Duncan was murdered in his sleep, and now Macbeth is lacking sleep. Sleep is needed, it is essential for a healthy lifestyle, and without it, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth suffer. Macbeth knows he has done a lot of horrific deeds now, but he is also aware that: I am in blood Stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er. So Macbeth is starting to regret his actions, but also knows he cannot do anything now except to continue. This adds to his recklessness towards the end of the play, as he seems not to have any other option now, so it doesn’t really matter anyway. He finishes the scene by saying We are yet but young in deed, which is a strong and dramatic prediction and a good way to end the scene. By this time in the play, communication is starting to break down between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth- as shown by the fact that Lady Macbeth knew nothing of Macbeth’s plans to murder Banquo- and their strong marriage is starting to split and fall apart. By the end of the play, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth have grown so far apart that I am going to analyse each of them separately in different scenes: Lady Macbeth in Act V Scene I, and Macbeth in Act V Scene III. By the end of the play Lady Macbeth is a total wreck. She sleepwalks, and is constantly troubled by the actions of her husband. In Act V Scene I, she is sleepwalking, observed by a doctor and a gentlewoman. She acts as if she is washing her hands, rubbing them together in her sleep, trying to get the blood of the king off them. This symbolises that she does not feel free of the guilt for murdering Duncan. She says in her sleep, Will these hands neer be clean? and, All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. This is ironic as, just after having murdered Duncan, she assures Macbeth that, A little water clears us of this deed. This brings in yet another theme of the play, water. Throughout the scene, Lady Macbeth speaks in prose, the lower-class language. This is a contrast to the rest of the play, which is in blank verse, with the occasional rhyming couplet. This reflects the difference in Lady Macbeth from the strong character she was at the start of the play. Another point to be made about the way in which Lady Macbeth speaks is the subject of her speech. She darts from subject to subject, from one time in the past to another, very quickly, making it hard to follow what she is saying. This disjointed, nonsensical speech reflects her troubled mind and demonstrates quite how much she has had to deal with. As the doctor says, More needs she the divine than the physician, as Lady Macbeth has suffered a mental breakdown, and it seems that no mortal can help her now. The contrast between this weak, broken character now, and the strong, decisive character we saw at the start of the play, adds a massive amount of drama and effect to the play. As for Macbeth, he too is now a completely different character to the well-respected, fairly rational warrior we saw at the start of the play. His paranoia has developed into a fear and mistrust of everyone except the witches, as we saw halfway through the play. He has put all his trust in the witches’ prophesies that he will not be beaten: For none of woman born Shall harm Macbeth and, Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill Shall come against him. Because of what he has heard from the witches, Macbeth honestly believes himself to be invincible. This means he is ready to take all sorts of silly risks. In this scene, Macbeth is in his castle at Dunsinane, and an army of the English and all his flown Thanes, led by Macduff and Malcolm, are about to attack him. For the majority of the scene, Macbeth spends his time mocking all his servants, and those who bring reports to him of the advancing army. He scorns them for showing their fear, and boasts that he is unbeatable. He is confident, arrogant, and defiant in that he refuses to be afraid. However, all his confidence relies totally on the witches’ prophesies being true. He insults the Thanes, seeming not at all bothered by the fact that they have all deserted him, and the odds are stacked against him winning the battle. A mad bravery has possessed Macbeth. In amongst all his fighting talk, there is a quiet, reflective moment where it is revealed that Macbeth is lonely, and he misses having true friends, instead of all the mouth-honour he receives as king. He realises that he has lost everything he ever had, because he sacrificed so much to become king. However he also knows that, win or lose, he will have to carry on now, because he seems not to have any choice. Macbeth then sees the doctor, and asks How does your patient, doctor?. This quote demonstrates how distant Macbeth now is from Lady Macbeth, that he refers to her in such a way. He still cares about her, but never spends any time with her any more, and she is more of an afterthought, not really his wife any more. He asks the doctor to do all he can to make her better, because he still wants her to be all right. The marriage which was so strong at the start of the play has now broken apart completely, to the point that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth never speak to each other any more. In the end, Lady Macbeth commits suicide because she is so unhappy, and Macbeth does not even have time to grieve for his wife, because he is so preoccupied by the battle and his own affairs. So what caused the difference in their relationship? The first contributing factor is right near the start of the play when Macbeth murders Duncan’s chamberlains without consulting Lady Macbeth. From then onwards, Macbeth starts to do things without consulting Lady Macbeth: murdering Banquo, and Macduff’s wife and children. This upsets Lady Macbeth because she loses control of the situation. She is very troubled by the murder of Macduff’s wife and children because as Thanes’ wives they would have been friends. Loss of communication between them affects them both, though Lady Macbeth more than Macbeth. Also deprivation of sleep plays a big part in each of their mental states, and each of them feels a great guilt for their actions. Overall though, the main things that split up Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are lack of communication, and loss of control.

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