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Macbeth and Lady Macbeth relationship question

i need some help on how to structure this question, if you can please can you give me some advice on it. Also, i hope it helps you as well. (The extract is from act 2 scene 2 btw)
Starting with this conversation, explore how Shakespeare presents the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Write about:

How Shakespeare presents their relationship in this extract

How Shakespeare presents the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in the play, as a whole.

Shakespeare shows the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth through various acts of the play. We first see them together plotting Duncan’s death. They both have greed and ambition to gain power and control which leads them to their ultimate downfall. There is conflict between them when plotting Duncan’s murder and we see the imbalance of power in the relationship.

In this extract we can see how Macbeth is overwhelmed with guilt over the heinous act they have committed. ‘Macbeth does murder sleep’. This highlights Macbeth’s guilt and how he shall not sleep anymore. He murdered Duncan in his sleep and has resulted in him never sleeping peacefully again. Only the innocent can sleep which he cannot. This is the opposite of Lady Macbeth as she says not to worry about it and tries to relax Macbeth. We can see the imbalance of power in their relationship here. Lady Macbeth is in control of the situation they’re currently in as she is calmer and more relaxed, instructing Macbeth in what to do. We can see how guilty Macbeth feels and how not guilty Lady Macbeth feels.

Macbeth is seen weaker here compared to Lady Macbeth who is seen as mentally stronger than Macbeth. ‘Go get some water and wash this filthy witness from your hand.’ This suggests how she wants Macbeth to get rid of the evidence from Duncan’s murder. ‘go’ and ‘wash’ are imperatives used to instruct Macbeth, hinting at the fact she is in control now. This contrasts to before as Macbeth isn’t seen as weaker emotionally than Lady Macbeth. This all changed when Lady Macbeth received the letter given by Macbeth about the witches and manipulates him into killing King Duncan. ‘filthy witness’. Can show that Lady Macbeth doesn’t want to raise suspicion. It can also infer what Lady Macbeth thinks of Macbeth’s stupidity at this moment in the play as he has messed up tremendously which irritates Lady Macbeth. ‘Filthy witness’ can foreshadow how Lady Macbeth will lose control in act 5 of the play with her hallucinations and sleep walking. We can see her as more mentally weak here compared to the extract. This is where she deteriorates as a person and loses all self-control. This shows the imbalance of control that Lady Macbeth has at the beginning of the play and at the end. This contradicts Macbeth as at the beginning as he doesn’t have control of the situation but gains it to kill others.

Later in the play, their relationship deteriorates compared to what it is like now. Right now, Lady Macbeth has power and control over the situation, however later, Macbeth gains that back only to lose control over it as he kills more innocent people such as Banquo and Macduff’s family. ‘We have scorched the snake, not killed it’. This suggests Macbeth is worried about their actions and must keep the power they have right now. Like Lady Macbeth wanting to kill King Duncan to become royalty, Macbeth is wanting to kill Banquo and Fleance to keep that title and reign for as long as they can. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are similar in a way that they want to become and stay King and Queen, however they show an imbalance of power in their relationship.

Shakespeare wants to show how they aren’t an ordinary Jacobean relationship as Lady Macbeth takes control of their relationship in this extract. Lady Macbeth refuses to become feminine and resorts to the supernatural to become queen instead. Macbeth agrees to the plan and commits immoral deeds with her.
I highly recommend Mr Salles Teaches English on Youtube, I got full marks in my Macbeth exam and I owe it to him :smile:
Mr. Salles or Mr. Bruff on YouTube back when we did our GCSE Literature were the "Gods" of exam revision.
Please check them out, they can help you out a lot more than we can.
(edited 1 year ago)
definitely check out the resources the others posted. as well, it might be worth structuring your essay like

- how their relationship is in the extract (go for 2 paragraphs, it's the focus of the question so make sure you write a fair chunk about it)
- how their relationship was near the beginning/before the extract (1 paragraph, maybe 2 depending on when the extract is)
- how their relationship is towards the end/after the extract (1 paragraph, maybe 2 depending on when the extract is)

if you're aiming for higher grades (7 or higher), you could link the extract into the rest of the essay (eg. 'This foreshadows/predicts/sets the stage for...' and 'This develops xyz presented in the extract')
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 4
Thank you so much
I. Introduction

Introduce the topic of the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare's play
Mention the extract and how it relates to the overall relationship in the play

II. How Shakespeare presents the relationship in the extract

-Discuss how Macbeth is overwhelmed with guilt and Lady Macbeth is calm and in control
-Explore the imbalance of power in the relationship and how Lady Macbeth is seen as mentally stronger than Macbeth
-Use quotes from the extract to support these points, such as "Macbeth does murder sleep" and "Go get some water and wash this filthy witness from your hand"

Example: In the extract, Macbeth is consumed by guilt and is unable to sleep, while Lady Macbeth remains composed and attempts to help him cover up the crime. This shows their different reactions to the situation and highlights Lady Macbeth's dominance in their relationship.

III. How Shakespeare presents the relationship in the play as a whole

-Talk about how their relationship deteriorates as the play progresses
-Discuss how Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are similar in their ambition for power but show an imbalance of control in their relationship
-Use quotes from other parts of the play to support these points, such as "We have scorched the snake, not killed it" and "Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here"

-Explain how Lady Macbeth refuses to be a typical Jacobean woman and uses supernatural means to gain power
Example: Throughout the play, their relationship is marked by tension and mistrust. They both desire power, but it is clear that Lady Macbeth is the one who holds the reins and makes the decisions. This is exemplified in the quote "Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here" where she calls upon supernatural forces to help her fulfill her ambitions.

IV. Conclusion

-Summarize how Shakespeare presents the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in the extract and in the play as a whole
-End with a final thought on the significance of their relationship in the play.

Example: In conclusion, Shakespeare presents the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as complex and ever-evolving. In the extract, we see their different reactions to guilt and the imbalance of power in their relationship. Throughout the play, their relationship deteriorates and ultimately leads to their downfall. The significance of their relationship lies in its role in driving the plot and its commentary on gender roles and power dynamics in Jacobean society.
(edited 1 year ago)

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