and he visualizes the consequence. There is a
and Cruelty of Lady Macbeth Macbeth essaysThe Hardness and Cruelty of Lady Macbeth Lady Macbeth is a controversial figure. She is seen by some as a woman of strong will who is ambitious for herself and who is astute enough to recognize her husband’s strengths and weaknesses, and ruthless enough to exploit them. They see her in her commitment to evil and in her realization that the acquisition of the Crown has not brought her the happiness she had expected, and finally, as one who breaks down under the strain.
Others see her as a woman ambitious for her husband whom she loves. She recognizes the essential good in him, and feels that, without her, he will never win the Crown. She allies herself with the powers of darkness for his sake, but here inherent (congenital) femininity breaks down under the strain of the unnatural murder of Duncan and the alienation of her husband. She is seen as simple and realistic where Macbeth is complicated and imaginative. She can see what must be done; he visualizes the consequence.
There is a vast difference between Macduff’s “O gentle Lady ‘Tis not for you to hear what I can speak The repetition in a woman’s ear Would murder as it fell.” ACT II, Sc.ii and Malcolm’s assessment of her as a “fiend-like queen” (Act IV, Sc.vii).
So we must examine the text. To Macbeth, in his letter to her, she is his “dearest partner of greatness”, an indication of love and trust. We see her as she analyses his virtues and weaknesses and decides to overcome his scruples, “hie thee hither That I may pour my spirits at thine ear” Is there any evidence here as to why she wishes him to be king? Overcome By Ambition – When she calls on the powers of evil to unsex her and make her cruel, does this imply that she fears her own womanliness and realizes the unnaturalness of the murder of Duncan? Is she, like Macbeth just an ordinary human being overcomes with ambition? Does she really lose her womanliness? Do the words(Act I, Sc. ii) “Had he not resembled My father as he slept, I had done’t” imply that she is still a woman with a woman’s tendernesss? Does she show herself strong willed and more determined than Macbeth, Act I, Sc.vii, as she argues and demands his agreement to the murder? Is she alloy by exploiting his love for her when she makes his consent to murder a test of his love? Is she being cynical when she inverts logic and reality in asking him if he is afraid to be what he wants to be and in suggesting that to be a true man he must take what he wants? Must she take some of Macbeth’s guilt here? In the murder scene (ActII, Sc.
ii) she resorts to wine to give her courage. Does this also show that she has not been filled from top to toe with “direst cruelty”? She is aware, too, that dwelling on the moral aspect of the murder “will make us mad”. The Better Criminal? – She seems to be the better criminal; she remembers the details that Macbeth has overlooked, “Why did you bring these daggers from the place?” and shows her as she brings the daggers back. Does she really despise Macbeth when she argues him of wearing “a heart so white”? Or is she afraid for him that he may betray himself? In Act II, Sc.
ii, when she calls for help does she do so because of her feminine weakness, or is she afraid that Macduff may question Macbeth further as to his killing of the chamberlains? If the latter, does it again illustrate her quick thinking?Unhappiness – In Act III, Sc.ii, Lady Macbeth is coming to realize that the Crown has not brought happiness, “Nought’s had, all’s spent, Where our desire is got without content.” Is she suffering from remorse here, or does she think that the murder of Duncan has alienated Macbeth from her? “How now, my Lord! Why do you keep alone?” Is she worried that he is unhappy? She tries to console him, “what’s done is done.” and to rally his spirits. She again shows her presence of mind in the Ghost scene when he becomes ‘unmanned’, but then, she does not see the Ghost. She uses the old strategy of appealing to his manliness, but without success.
When the guests have departed she does not upbraid Macbeth, but makes excuses for him that he lacks “the season of all natures, sleep.” Does this show her gentleness and compassion towards him? Or does she feel that further argument would be useless? The Sleepwalking Scene – We do not meet her again until this scene. She has now been reduced to a poor, mad creature, broken by events. Our last view of her is her delusion of nearness to Macbeth.
Is there a stress on her sense of guilt, her despair and, perhaps still, her determination? Macbeth’s few words about her (Act V,Sc.v) may be uttered in an indifferent tone, or even with a sense of something already lost. At the end of the play, perhaps we feel guilty for her, but we may still remember what appeared to be hardness and cruelty.