ENGU4 Laila El Helw Mrs. Jason 1/20/2018 LadyMacbeth vs MacbethLady Macbeth and Macbeth characters contrast when with one another,nevertheless the main comparison between the two characters is their desire to attainthe thrown. However, when both characters rise to power this leads them to theirtragic demise.
Throughout their journey they are influenced by the witches tohave enough ambition to acquire the thrown, however when they achieve theirgoal they experience extreme guilt which leads them to their catastrophic deaths.In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are both drivenby ambition into attaining the thrown. Lady Macbeth is blinded by her ambitionthat she tries to convince Macbeth of committing the greatest sin which is themurder of an innocent man; Duncan. The following quote indicates to the reader howstrong Lady Macbeth’s ambitious drive is. “Thou wouldst be great, Art not without ambition, but without The illness should attend it.” (Act 1, scene 5) After reading theletter from her husband, and learning that there may be a possibility ofMacbeth being King, Lady Macbeth is immediately influenced by the witches. Consequently,Lady Macbeth tries to convince Macbeth to commit murder as she claims it is theonly way to become King. Similarly,Macbeth becomes determined to achieve the great title of becoming King,therefore he is willing to do anything to get the title.
“Let not light see myblack and deep desires.” Macbeth describes his ambition as being ‘black anddeep desires’ which hints to the reader that Macbeth’s ambition to take thecrown is so profound that he is willing to commit deadly sins. Macbeth ishypnotized by the witches’ prophecy and fixated by the idea of being King thathe ignores his moral intuitive, and lets his ambition guide him to his goal ofbeing King. “I have no spurTo prick the sides of my intent, but onlyVaulting ambition”(Act 1, scene 7)Macbeth admits to himself that there is no good reason for killingDuncan, the only reason he could find is that he wants the power all tohimself. Both characters experience guilt, nevertheless in different ways.For Macbeth guilt appears in the form of the ghost of Banquo, and for LadyMacbeth guilt consumes her in her sleep. As readers we learn how Lady Macbeth isn’tas malicious as she seems to be.
We see Lady Macbeth’s vulnerable side throughher sleepwalking episodes that occur as a result of the guilt she experiencesafter being part of the murder of an innocent man. In Act 5 scene 1, LadyMacbeth says “The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now? What will thesehands ne’er be clean?” The following phrase, ” where is she now?” indicated thatLady Macbeth did not plan the murder of Macduff’s wife, it was the crime ofthat her husband committed, yet the crime is a burden in her conscious state ofmind. “What will these hands ne’er be clean” signifies that she stills feelsthe blood of Duncan on her hands and she feels unclean, she knows that she willlive the rest of her life with the blood of another man on her hands.
Subsequently,Lady Macbeth displays signs of guilt while she sleepwalks. In Act 5 scene one,”Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will notsweeten this little hand.” Lady Macbeth explains how she can still smell theblood of Duncan on her hands, she says that no matter how many perfumes shesprays on her hand, it will never get the smell of blood of her nose.
She willfeels as if she is doomed for eternity, to suffer in her guilt for the gruesomemurders she has committed. Likewise, Macbeth’sguilt is presented in the form of the ghost of Banquo. In act 3 scene 4 “Ifthou canst nod, speak too.
If charnel houses and our graves musts send thosethat we bury back.” The three witches predicted that the sons of Banquo wouldalso be King. In order to prevent this, Macbeth kills his friend and partner. This guilt causes Macbeth to see Banquo’sghost at a feast. He tells Lady Macbeth that he sees Banquo’s ghost, and ordersthe ghost to speak, he is convinced that there is no point in burying peoplesince they will return from their graves.
Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth had dissimilar reactions concerningthe witches’ prophecy, yet they were both equally influenced by them. LadyMacbeth displays multiple actions which indicate to the reader how she isgreatly influenced by what the witches predicted. “Come, you spirits, unsex mehere,And fill me from the crown to the toe top-fullOf direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.Come to my woman’s breastsAnd take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,” (Act 1,scene 5) Lady Macbeth believes that she’s calling on evil spirits, she isbeing driven into madness by the influence these spirits have on her. LadyMacbeth is keen on doing all that is necessary to seize the throne, even ifmeans going against her morals. Her ambition is strong enough to drive herhusband onwards with the murder.
“Unsex me here. Come to my woman’s breast, andtake my milk for gall.” Clearly indicates to the reader how Lady Macbeth is capableof murder however her femininity is the only thing that is stopping her, thisis why she calls upon the witches and asks them to remove her gender. Subsequently,she taunts Macbeth and tells him to ‘be a man’ and to go with the murder.
Movingon to Macbeth, he is greatly influenced by the witches’ prophecy. In act 2 scene 2 “His cloister’d flight, ereto black Hecate’s summonsThe shard-borne beetle with his drowsy humsHath rung night’s yawning peal, there shall be doneA deed of dreadful note.” The quote explains how Macbeth tries tochannel the witches when he talk about his strategy for the murder of Banquoand Fleance. Throughout the play Macbeth shows signs of being captivated bywhat the witches have predicted for him. “Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all, As the weird women promised, and, I fear Thou play’dst most foully for’t”. (Act 3, scene 1) The quote explains how Banquo suspects Macbethof murdering Duncan. He tells Macbeth that he has used foul means to achievewhat the witches has predicted. If Macbeth had not been influenced by what thewitches have predicted then he would not have thinking about their prophecy.
To conclude, both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are similar in many waysyet they still contrast with each other on different levels, such as how theyreact to the witches’ prophecy, or how they experience guilt; for exampleMacbeth sees the ghost of Banquo and Lady Macbeth sleepwalks. Nevertheless, LadyMacbeth and Macbeth rise to power after being influenced by the witches’prophecy, which leads them to become ambitious in committing multiple murders. Asa result both characters experienced moments of guilt, which lead them to theirtragic demise.
Works CitedShakespeare, William. Macbeth Bantam Books: New York. 2005. Print.