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In William Shakespeare’s play ”Macbeth”, Lady Macbeth is a ruthless and ambitious character who convinces her husband to murder the king.

During her soliloquy, we see how her part in the murder has caused her to become consumed by guilt.

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Who Is Lady Macbeth?

In the beginning of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Macbeth is told by the three witches that he will one day be king. Together with his wife, they plot to murder King Duncan, and take the throne. It is not just Macbeth who is overcome with greed and desire. Lady Macbeth is even more driven, and possibly more evil.Lady Macbeth is a strong and ruthless woman. When we first meet her in Act I, Scene 5, she is already plotting the murder of the king.

Although Macbeth does have initial doubt and fear about committing the act, she is able to manipulate him. She questions his manhood, even saying she wishes she were a man so she could do it herself. Macbeth eventually does kill King Duncan, and Lady Macbeth reassures him that everything will be okay.However, like Macbeth, she does feel guilt, which creates fear and paranoia. She soon becomes mad, sleepwalking through the castle, talking in her sleep, and trying to wash nonexistent blood off of herself. During this state of madness, Lady Macbeth delivers her famous soliloquy.

What Is a Soliloquy?

A soliloquy is when a character speaks his or her thoughts aloud, without acknowledging the others on stage. It is a tool that allows the audience to understand the character’s thoughts and motivations. Lady Macbeth delivers her soliloquy in the presence of her nursemaid and doctor, but does not acknowledge them nor censor her thoughts because of their presence.

Lady Macbeth’s Soliloquy

The soliloquy takes place in Act 5, Scene 1. The scene opens with a doctor and Lady Macbeth’s attendant. As they are talking, Lady Macbeth enters the scene, sleepwalking. The two observe her rubbing her hands together, as if she were washing them.

She then begins to speak:’Out, damned spot! out, I say! — One: Two: why then, ’tis time to do’t. — Hell is murky! — Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? — Yet, who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him?’In these lines, Lady Macbeth is trying to wash the blood off of her, but the spot will not disappear. She also begins to relive the murder of King Duncan.

As part of the plot to kill him, the bell was to sound two times for Macbeth to act. Here, she counts again. Lady Macbeth also shows her fear of eternal punishment, saying that ‘Hell is murky.’Finally, she relives the moment of the murder. In her memory, she and her lord (Macbeth) hear a soldier outside. However, she reassures Macbeth that the two have nothing to fear; they are too powerful, and above the law.

In the last line, she is shocked by the amount of blood that comes from the slain king.In her next lines, she says, ‘The Thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now? What, will these hands ne’er be clean? No more o’that, my lord, and no more o’that: you mar all with this starting.’Lady Macbeth begins this part of her speech by referencing Macduff’s wife, whom Macbeth also murdered earlier in the play. She then falls back into her psychosis of cleaning her hands, crying that the blood will never come off. Finally, she relives the moment she thought she saw Banquo’s ghost.

When she says ‘you mar all this,’ she means that Banquo is exposing Macbeth’s crime to everyone.Lady Macbeth continues, ‘Here’s the smell of blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!’ She cries that no perfume will ever get rid of the smell of blood on her hands. Again, we see how deep into madness she has fallen.She then speaks to Macbeth again, imagining they are back to Banquo’s murder. ‘Wash your hands, put on your nightgown; look not so pale — I tell you, yet again, Banquo’s buried, he cannot come out on’s grave’.

Here, Lady Macbeth is reliving Banquo’s murder and the moments after it. She is telling Macbeth to clean up, look more normal, and accept that Banquo is dead.Finally, Lady Macbeth states, ‘To bed, to bed! There’s knocking at the gate: come, come, come, come, give me your hand. What’s done cannot be undone. — To bed, to bed, to bed.’ She thinks she hears someone and rushes back to bed.

The Importance of the Soliloquy

When we first meet Lady Macbeth, she is strong, confident, and ruthless.

However, after she and Macbeth murder King Duncan, she grows weaker. Eventually, Macbeth begins to act without her and she feels the weight on her conscience of each murder he commits.This soliloquy demonstrates the moral and physical destruction of Lady Macbeth. She is now weak, vulnerable, and unable to care for herself. It also shows the guilt she feels because of the murder. In her speech, she first relives the murder of Duncan, then Macduff’s wife, and then Banquo. In each example, she is driven mad by the blood she sees, and believes she will never get it off her hands and clothes.

Lesson Summary

William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth explores themes of ambition and guilt. In the beginning, Lady Macbeth is strong and ambitious. However, after she helps her husband murder King Duncan, she is slowly driven to madness by her guilt.Her soliloquy, which is when a character speaks his or her thoughts aloud, without acknowledging the others on stage, demonstrates this change in her character.

It shows her visions of blood from the murders of not only the King, but also Macduff’s wife and son, and Banquo. She relives the murders, the conversations she had with Macbeth, and is horrified by the blood she imagines will never come off her hands.By the end of the play, Lady Macbeth’s guilt eventually drives her to suicide.

However, she has become so successful in her desire for Macbeth to become ruthless that he only comments briefly on her death. Macbeth is now consumed with the ambition that Lady Macbeth once had.

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