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Relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

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In Shakespeare’s tragic play ‘Macbeth’, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are portrayed to have a very complex relationship. However, we can describe this complexed relationship between the characters as being ironically close. Throughout the play, the couple bonds over murder, guilt and a hunger for power. They both feed of each other in order to maintain a position of power in Scotland. Nevertheless, this relation gradually disintegrates over time and this is first scene in act one scene seven.

In act one scene seven, the marriage is seen to be very strained, in anticipation of the murder they are about to commit. Macbeth starts of the scene with a soliloquy. He lays with both sides of the argument, at first contemplating the possibility that everything goes to plan and he follows Lady Macbeth’s ambition. He then turns to the potentially violent consequences, suggesting that if he and Lady Macbeth resort to murder, as the inventors, it will eventually come back to them. The audience sees Macbeth’s unfiltered thoughts on killing Duncan it is evident that he is very conscious of the consequences, unlike his wife, who thinks only of the potential benefits of going through with the plan. The length of the speech shows the extent of his doubt towards the plan and shows his anxiousness: “Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return to plague the inventor.” When Lady Macbeth enters, Macbeth uses a declarative sentence, “we will proceed no further in this business.” Here he is trying to regain the dominance he has lost and is resolute. The Jacobean audience and King James would perhaps admire this dialogue as “man” has regained the dominance and is making “moral” decisions as expected.

However, this admiration is soon shattered once Lady Macbeth starts emasculating the “Thane of Cawdor”: “When you durst do it, then you were a man.” The verb “durst” reminds the audience the jeopardy behind the deed; implying an element of toxicity within their relationship. She is trying to goad Macbeth into agreement by insulting his manliness. Shakespeare is mainly doing so in order to present Lady Macbeth as a strong-willed and a hideous character as she is trying to persuade her husband to commit regicide. The continued transgression of Lady Macbeth over Macbeth shows that she is taking control and using his masculinity as a way to manipulate him. Perhaps she wants to be the leader of Scotland more than Macbeth. This shows Lady Macbeth is dangerous as she will go to extreme lengths to become the Queen and that she will even transgress the boundaries that wives were expected to work within to achieve her goal, showing that she will break the natural order to get gain control over her husband and the whole of Scotland.

Furthermore, Lady Macbeth uses violent verbs in order to persuade Macbeth. She says that, “Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn.” The violent verbs: “plucked” and “dashed” presents that Lady Macbeth can go to any extent to keep her promise and thus expects the same from Macbeth. The extended sentence, perhaps also represent how desperate she is to gain power mirroring Macbeth’s early ideas: “Vaulting ambition which o’er leaps”. Moreover, here she acts as the antithesis of a Jacobean woman, this is used by Shakespeare to portray an imbalanced relationship and reversal of roles between the couple. Macbeth, rather than, being dismissive (expected from a Jacobean man) - he feels humiliated and does what she perceives has to be done. This makes the growing cracks in their relationship even more visible to the audience.

As the play progresses, Shakespeare creates more and more distance between the characters. In Act 2 scene 2, Macbeth shows first signs of guilt-after murdering the king. However, Shakespeare causes the characters to juxtapose each other as Lady Macbeth feels no guilt whatsoever. For example: Macbeth seems to be paranoid and his guilt engulf him and he is unable to rest: “I’m afraid to think what I’ve done”. However, Lady Macbeth asserts dominance once more and orders him to complete the plan. Additionally, Lady Macbeth makes it viable to audience when she says: "My hands are of your colour, but I shame to wear a heart so white", she is criticizing her husband to feel guilty and emasculates him further more. This shows the extreme hideous nature of Lady Macbeth as despite supporting her husband (something that is expected from a woman in the Jacobean Era), she continually insults him.

In conclusion, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth begin the play almost too comfortable within their marriage, which seems to invite the presence of chaos and tragedy into their relationship. They start opposing each other, which leads to the total disintegration of their relationship and their fatal flaw. This warns the audience about the dire consequences of committing regicide to a person and a marriage.
I can't comment if this essay is for A level or give u an exact mark but if it's for gcse then this is so good!! Your strongest in your ideas (AO1) which is really important especially as you have built up a very strong opinion, and you have added in context (AO3) where its necessary so it flows really well. Although u have a good analogy of quotes, I would learn a few more literacy techniques or try to use different ones in your essay. On one of the times you said "violent verbs" I would change that to onomatopoeia or a lexical feild of violence then when you zoom in on the specific word choices u can say "the violent plosives: "plucked"..."
However if you do aqa as an exam board they are more looking for big ideas around your quotes and your own opinion, so if you dont use things like this in your exam don't worry about it. But this is just an easy way to upgrade your AO2 (indepth anology of quotes and writers techniques) which is worth the same as AO1.
Original post by Caitlinnn.
I can't comment if this essay is for A level or give u an exact mark but if it's for gcse then this is so good!! Your strongest in your ideas (AO1) which is really important especially as you have built up a very strong opinion, and you have added in context (AO3) where its necessary so it flows really well. Although u have a good analogy of quotes, I would learn a few more literacy techniques or try to use different ones in your essay. On one of the times you said "violent verbs" I would change that to onomatopoeia or a lexical feild of violence then when you zoom in on the specific word choices u can say "the violent plosives: "plucked"..."
However if you do aqa as an exam board they are more looking for big ideas around your quotes and your own opinion, so if you dont use things like this in your exam don't worry about it. But this is just an easy way to upgrade your AO2 (indepth anology of quotes and writers techniques) which is worth the same as AO1.

Thank you so much for your feedback. i really appreciate it! Yes, this for GCSE and I am doing AQA. I do agree with you that "lexical field of violence" sounds much better!
Reply 3
this is very good ! you have a lot of textual references and a good idea about the changes of their relationship as the text progresses! for aqa, you should add more big ideas- what shakespeare is trying to communicate to his audience (A03) and try to analyse your quotes in more depth. overall well done !!
This is brilliant

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