Ellie Jane Carloftis R. WhittemoreEnglish 132 B17 Jan. 2018Macbeth EssayThroughout Macbeth, a popular Shakespeare tragedy, there were many relationships created between characters. The characters and the roles they played were critical assets to the plot and the overall theme of the play.
Numerous friendships were made, enemies were discovered, and jealousy was felt throughout the whole play. Out of all of the situations that went on during the play, the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth was one to look at. The chemistry between the two characters was constantly changing and there were times when the audience wasn’t for sure which one was the driving force for their marriage.
There was a lot of death and corruption that went on between the two, which caused their relationship to be strange. As the play goes on, the relationship between the two changes and their roles are switched. The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is a key factor in Macbeth because without Lady Macbeth’s strong, persuasive influence on her husband, Macbeth would have not acted on impulse and made the decisions that he did. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth appear to be a strong, devoted couple. Throughout the play, their love and concern for each other remains constant, but their relationship changes when King Duncan was murdered in Act 2.
Macbeth, himself, is seen as a perfect human being, other than the attribute of his extreme bravery. He was not one to even put together the idea of killing someone for his own personal gain, however his masculinity does matter to him. Lady Macbeth is seen as an unstable, intimidating character. The idea becomes relevant when Lady Macbeth says,”…I have given suck, and know How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me.
I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gumsAnd dashed the brains our, had I sworn as youHave done to this” (Macbeth, I, vii, 62-67). This quote was the first realization of the seriousness of the situation that was about to happen. It was also the realization of insanity that was inside of Lady Macbeth. As soon as she finds out that she can become Queen, she immediately plans the idea to kill King Duncan.
Lady Macbeth challenges Macbeth to kill King Duncan by saying “When you durst do it, then you were a man” (Macbeth, I, vii, 56). After being challenged, he kept his masculinity and went through with the killing. The relation of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth takes a few turns throughout the play. It starts with Lady Macbeth being in control and dominating Macbeth, then suddenly Macbeth turns into an unhesitant man, who gets accustomed to killing. The dire changes in the characters affect the couple’s relationship as a whole. Shakespeare introduces the protagonist of the play as a valiant and a prominent character, even way before the audience gets introduced to him. Ironically, Macbeth’s ambition takes over and he becomes the antagonist of the play, which happens when he meets the main antagonists.
The development of evil within Macbeth begins when the three witches, also known as the antagonists, plot the seed of evil inside of his mind. The witches proclaim a prophecy to Macbeth, in which he will be the Thane of Glamis, then the Thane of Cawdor, and then become a king in the near future. When Macbeth goes to meet King Duncan, he discovers that Malcolm will be Duncan’s heir. At this point, when Macbeth find out that he will not be next then his intentions turn evil, which he feels guilty about.
In the play, he says, “Stars, hide your fires, let not light see my black and deep desires” (Act 1, Scene 4). Shakespeare gives us an insight that evil acts are done in the dark, therefore Macbeth does not want the “stars” light to shine upon his dark side and reveal his “deep desires” that are within him. After leaving King Duncan’s castle, Macbeth returns home and tells his wife about King Duncan arriving at their place. Lady Macbeth decides to help Macbeth fulfil his ambition by planning Duncan’s death. After the killing of King Duncan, Macbeth felt as if he had to live up to his masculinity, therefore he continued to go downhill from there. The two switched roles as characters and Macbeth was now the one who went behind her back and kept secrets from her, such as Banquo’s death. When Lady Macduff asks about the plan to kill Banquo, Macbeth simply replies by saying, “Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck…”(III.
ii. 48). Right after the killing of King Duncan is when the roles are reversed; Macbeth gains confidence in his grab for power and also slaughters Macduff’s family and Banquo to remain in power. Throughout the play, Lady Macbeth’s control over her husband is responsible for the murders. Towards the end of the play, the roles are switched, and she does not give any more suggestions or plans about anything throughout the rest of the play.
While Macbeth goes off on his own hunt during this time, Lady Macbeth’s guilt is overwhelming her, so she descends into madness. Lady Macbeth’s character change is evident in Act III Scene ii, when she backs out of Macbeth’s mysterious murder plan and tells him to back off. The relationship between the couple is being torn apart at this point in the play. “Macbeth and Lady Macbeth suffer the consequences of their actions; they know themselves remorselessly. Their response of their tragedy is not an easy sense of justice served” (Danson, pg.
124). Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are headed in separate directions; Macbeth towards a life of murder and corruption and Lady Macbeth towards a life of insanity and grief. Their changing roles ironically end up resembling the other one’s role. Lady Macbeth’s character breaks down due to unyielding strength and unsteady control over her husband.
At the end of the play, Lady Macbeth’s weak and tender nature is revealed. She has lost all psychological control and authority over her husband and has gained nothing. Their relationship, as a whole, falls apart which is the engine that drives the tragedy. He is too sucked into power and too focused on other people to to show affection, while she is too overwhelmed with her own guilt to show affection. Both of their problems are the cause to their downfall in Macbeth.
In the end, their greed, selfishness, and desire for the throne blind them as a couple and deteriorate their relationship to the point that when Lady Macbeth died, Macbeth was barely concerned. The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth was a key factor in Macbeth and is the main cause that drove the tragedy.