Essay Comparing Macbeth And Lady Macbeth

1038 words - 4 pages

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth tells the story of a general who commits regicide in order to become king. Early in the play, Macbeth is conflicted as to weather or not he wants to kill his kinsman the king. In the first two acts Macbeth is not portrayed as a ruthless killer; he is a sympathetic character who succumbs to the provocation of his wife and a prophecy foretold by three mysterious witches. In contrast, Lady Macbeth is a manipulative, immoral woman. Her ambition is so strong that she is willing to do anything to see her husband succeed. However, in the third act things begin to change. The death of the king and lord and lady Macbeth’s rise to power catalyze profound transformation in their personalities.

            Before Macbeth enters the stage his reputation as a prestigious general is established. In the second scene of the play men who have fought with Macbeth rant about his courage in battle. The first account of Macbeth’s bravery comes from an injured captain. He says: “ But all’s too weak/for brave Macbeth (Well he deserves that name)/ Disdaining fortune, with his brandish steel/. (1.2.17) The rest of the scene consists of other recounts of Macbeth’s success; the thane of Ross informs the king that Macbeth has successfully suppressed the joint efforts of the thane of Cawdor, and the king of Norway. Furthermore, in this scene the king announces that Macbeth is to be promoted as the new thane of Cawdor. In this scene Macbeth is portrayed as a mighty, patriotic, warrior and a loyal subject to the king. However as the play progresses Macbeth deviates from these traits. Macbeth’s encounter with the three witches confuses him. He begins to decide on a course of action. It becomes apparent that Macbeth has contemplated killing Duncan when he (aside) acknowledges his “black and deep desires” (1.4.58) Macbeth knows that, if he wishes to take the throne, he must kill Duncan. Yet, at the same time, he acknowledges his allegiance to the king. “He’s here in double trust: First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, who should against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself. (1.7.12) Macbeth is conflicted between his morals and his ambition.

            In stark contrast to her husband Lady Macbeth is not conflicted. In the fifth scene of act one, she is reading a letter from Macbeth that describes his encounter with the witches. After she reads the letter she becomes excited and wants to aid her husband in anyway she can. She fears that he won’t be able to complete the task without her help. “Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way.”(1.5.16) Lady Macbeth is willing to do anything to help her husband become king. She is willing to take control to ensure she will be queen. She has Macbeth’s ambition but she...

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