How is Lady Macbeth presented in Macbeth

How is Lady Macbeth presented in the play Macbeth


Character of Lady Macbeth in Macbeth




Character Sketch of Lady Macbeth 


◇ Lady Macbeth, Concept of Fourth Witch:
It is often presumed that Lady Macbeth is the 'fourth witch'. She is considered the prime driving force behind all the crimes Macbeth committed, right from murdering King Duncan to that of Banquo. But why did she become of a bundle of nerves after King Duncan's murder gradually? Was it because of an irrevocable guilt-feeling Or because of her transformation into the 'fourth fiend'. 

She is the Eve who had to be expelled by God along with the first man, Adam. Lady Macbeth may also be compared to Vittoria Crombone of Webster and even Goneril who incited Albany almost in a similar manner as Lady Macbeth. But Lady Macbeth surpasses all of them in the ways she gives vent to her pent-up feelings. She invites the spirits in Act I, Sc. Vii, to unsex herself. She invokes 'cruelty' instead of 'pity' to fill her bosom to the brim. She also dares to say that she has the ruthlessness to ram a newborn babe on the floor, if needed. She, no doubt, had given a suck. That 'sweet dove had died' and perhaps, since then, Lady Macbeth grew furious to add a meaning to her otherwise drab existence. She had no fulfillment in her life, except her husband, Macbeth's ascending the ladder of success, through his vaulting ambition. Hence, with her limited wit and Intelligence, she tries to invoke the latent power in her husband to gain success by hook or by crook. 

◇ Lady Macbeth, Woman of Iron Will and Determination:
Her iron will and determination make her look 'fiend-like', a monster of cruelty or 'fourth witch' who instigated her husband to murder the king Duncan. Lady Macbeth wished to win the maximum success through her husband's  achievements and failed, now she began to compromise with frustration as each day passed by. That is why, she deliberately chooses evil, her choice is firm and poignant. In Act I, Sc V, when we first see Lady Macbeth in the play, she enters her room in the Castle of Inverness, reading a letter, the opening line of which includes the word 'success' which works in the head of Macbeth as well as Lady Macbeth. Surprisingly, she was praying to be filled with 'direst cruelty' from the crown to the toe by saying - 
     "Come thick Night, 
     And palk thee in the dunnest smoke of Hell, 
    That my keen knife ser not the wound it makes
    Nor Heaven peep through the blanket of the               dark, 
    To cry, 'Hold, hold!"

With each passing day, Lady Macbeth runs towards her own destructions, making all her nerves strained and jaded with a single aim of chalking out Duncan's murder, even she wished to take the dagger up and murder him, 'had he not resembled my father!'. Whenever, Macbeth began to think of being loyal to the King Duncan who had honoured him so far, Lady Macbeth incited him to execute the act of murdering Duncan to justify the prophecies of the three weird sisters. 

◇ Lady Macbeth, a lady of sound practical sense:
With admirable courage and determination,  she takes upon herself the direction of affairs, and arranges all practical details for the commission of the murder. Lady Macbeth, no doubt, is a plotter, a mean designing lady, who can go to any extent to make her dream fulfilled and she becomes successful in waking up the serpent under the loyal bosom of Macbeth who immediately after announces:
    "I am settled, and bend up
    Each corporeal agent to this terrible feat, 
    Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
   False face must hide what the false heart doth           know."

Lady Macbeth begins to yield to neuroticism gradually, she puts unbearable stress on her already weak nerves and compels Macbeth to go to Duncan's chamber after his dinner. Even, she says that holding the dagger firm is just a child's play fir her. She waits with bated breath till the murder gets committed by her husband. She has done all that she could do to expedite and smoothen the deed which would otherwise leave Macbeth breathless. 

◇ The effect of disillusionment on Lady Macbeth:
The impact of the murder of King Duncan is so much that Macbeth who murders Duncan in his sleep, actually murders his soothing sleep. In fact, Macbeth murders his wife's sleep too, as Lady Macbeth turns into a somnambulist ultimately. In her somnambulism, Lady Macbeth, later, kept on uttering that these blasted strains could never to be got rid of! But Lady Macbeth still acts smart, feigning extreme boldness in the Banquet Scene where she restores the situation when Macbeth has been completely shattered by the thoughts of Banquo. 

In Act V, Sc I, Lady Macbeth is seen to walk in her sleep. She holds a light in her hand while walking in her sleep. Her conscious and unconscious get merged in the perturbed state of sleep, hence, she keeps muttering the words related to the murder of Duncan, which sapped all the energies sha had, leaving her in a sorry plight, where memory kept swinging helplessly, rather indiscriminately between the past and the present, the bad deed and its impact. 

Lady Macbeth, is no doubt, a 'she-devil' whose evil deeds tell upon her state of mind, which goes disarrayed, unhinged, expediting her end - ill-timed, unfortunate, disrespectful. Of course, Macbeth laments cogently on hearing the demise of Lady Macbeth. The philosophical realization dawns on Macbeth as his 'yesterday' had been tormented by Lady Macbeth's fomentations, and her goading him on to commit a heinous deed, which leaves his life topsy-turvy. And, yet she can not escape the fire she lights herself. She gets consigned to the flame of her devilry. So, rightly, Macbeth mourns after the end of Lady Macbeth:
    "Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player, 
     That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, 
      And then is heard no more..... "

◇ Conclusion:
At the end we can feel the signs of Lady Macbeth. Her sighs are dreadful. Almost at the close of the play, we learn that she has committed suicide. Shakespeare has made us pity her, evil though she is.

 Frequently Asked Questions:

* How is Lady Macbeth presented in Act I, Sc V?

Ans: The Act I, Sc V is laid in Macbeth's castle in Inverness. As the curtain rises, Lady Macbeth is seen reading a letter which she has just received from Macbeth and in which he has informed Lady Macbeth of the prophecy of the witches. The Scene presents Lady Macbeth as a woman of iron will and determination. She thinks that nothing can stand in the way to fulfill the prophesies of the witches. 

* How is Lady Macbeth presented at the end of the play?

Ans: In Act V, Sc I where the famous sleep walking scene takes place. It takes place in Macbeth's castle at Dunsinane. Lady Macbeth walks in her sleep carrying a light in her hand, her eyes are open but she can not see. She constantly rubs her hand, as if she is trying to wash something. From her words it is clear that there is strain caused by the murder of Duncan. A sense of guilt has tormented Lady Macbeth much. She is seen raving due to the excessive mental agitation and tension. 

* How far Lady Macbeth is responsible for Macbeth's downfall?

Ans: Lady Macbeth, the wife of Macbeth and later the Queen of Scotland, has been referred as the 'fourth witch' for it is she who incites Macbeth to overcome his hesitation and drives him to commit the murder of King Duncan. She is ruthless in the pursuit of her will and, but for her, Duncan would never have been murdered. Though she can not be fully responsible for Macbeth's downfall because there is already an evil inclination in Macbeth and it is Lady Macbeth who only supplant water on it.

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