The Student Room Group

Tips for my Macbeth essay?

Hi, I wrote an essay on Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's (changing) relationship. Please give me tips on how to improve (and maybe potential marks I could have got):

In the Scottish tragedy Macbeth, Shakespeare constructs the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to ultimately challenge the societal norms and paradigms of gender stereotypes. This is evidently portrayed as they begin as equals, with Lady Macbeth subtly controlling and manipulating Macbeth, until the predetermined status of Lady Macbeth as a woman finally takes prominence in her downfall.

In the exposition, Shakespeare instantaneously introduces Lady Macbeth’s iconoclastic nature, as Macbeth refers to her as “my dearest partner of greatness”. The emotive superlative “dearest” alludes to the interestingly strong bond between the couple and how they exist on equal levels of power. However, as Macbeth later hesitates to act on his “deep desires”, Lady Macbeth begins to act as the “spur” to “prick the sides” of his “vaulting ambition”, instructing Macbeth to “look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under’t”; she is encouraging him to hide his “slaughterous thoughts” behind a “visage” of deceit (perhaps she views this as the most effective way to gain power as a woman in the patriarchal society). Her unmatched Machiavellian attitudes at this point portray her as in control over Macbeth (thus unbalancing their relationship), which is exemplified through her witchlike, masculine “cruelty” (this similarity between her and the “weird sisters” establishes Macbeth as the inferior figure in the play, possible conveying Shakespeare’s message to steadfastly occupy one’s place in the Great Chain of Being). Shakespeare is clearly demonstrating through Macbeth’s inferior position compared to Lady Macbeth that the patriarchy is perhaps wrong, and that women should not have to go to the extremes of invoking the “dunnest smoke of hell” to gain power in society.

As the play develops, and Macbeth’s pursuits of gaining power increase, Lady Macbeth’s role diminishes. This is highlighted as she at first instructs Macbeth to “wash this filthy witness from your hand”, stating that “a little water clears us of this deed”. The imperative “wash” alludes to her current power over Macbeth. However, while Macbeth soon recovers and pursues his “foul reign” as a powerful (albeit corrupt) “tyrant”, Lady Macbeth instead claims that “all the perfumes of Arabia could not sweeten this little hand”. The repetition of the adjective “little” perhaps conveys her ultimately predetermined subservient role in society, despite any attempt to assume power over Macbeth. This is interesting considering her belittling emasculation of Macbeth and patronising comments including “you do unbend your noble strength so brain-sickly of things”. Shakespeare’s use of “brain -sickly” references how “full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife”, highlighting Lady Macbeth’s supposed awareness of the insurmountable effects of guilt. However, this portrayal is later undermined, proving that Lady Macbeth’s guilt potentially caused her later downfall and therefore inferiority compared to Macbeth. A contemporary religious audience would therefore recognise the consequences of sin and defying the highest power of the Great Chain of Being, God.

In Act 5, Lady Macbeth is presented as sleepwalking in “slumbery agitation” while Macbeth rules as a “tyrant”. This relationship dynamic is finalised as Lady Macbeth dies off-stage, proving her ultimate subservience and weakness in her relationship. Macbeth responds “she should have died hereafter”. This can be interpreted as a callous reaction to his “dear” wife’s death, as he discards the event as a mere inconvenience. However, Macbeth may be perhaps exhibiting care of Lady Macbeth, simply wishing for her to live to see his expected successful reign. This portrayal cyclically demonstrates Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s care and admiration toward each other, signifying how ultimately, they both shared to common goal of gaining (monarchical) power, and were only divided by the harsh consequences of guilt and sin. Clearly, Shakespeare intends to prove that moral value exceeds any other form of judgement (such as gender), urging the audience to remain righteous (perhaps as a way to deter any threats to King James’ reign, following the Gunpowder plot).

Overall, the relationship between Lady Macbeth, despite the changes in dynamic and power, remains cyclically equal. Furthermore, Shakespeare presents Lady Macbeth as a “dearest partner of greatness” to comment on the patriarchal society and its wrongfully imbalanced gender roles.
(edited 1 month ago)
Reply 1
is this for aqa
Original post by JF ZAK
is this for aqa

yea
Reply 3
Original post by terumikami
yea

here is my feedback hope it helps

In the Scottish tragedy Macbeth, Shakespeare constructs the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to ultimately challenge the societal norms and paradigms of gender stereotypes. This is evidently portrayed as they begin as equals, with Lady Macbeth subtly controlling and manipulating Macbeth, until the predetermined status of Lady Macbeth as a woman finally takes prominence in her downfall. (This is a strong opening paragraph that establishes the central theme of the play and introduces the complex relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. You effectively highlight the inversion of gender roles and the power dynamics at play. (However, try to directly link these observations to the question's focus on the changing relationship between the two characters.))
In the exposition, Shakespeare instantaneously introduces Lady Macbeth’s iconoclastic nature, as Macbeth refers to her as “my dearest partner of greatness”. The emotive superlative “dearest” alludes to the interestingly strong bond between the couple and how they exist on equal levels of power. However, as Macbeth later hesitates to act on his “deep desires”, Lady Macbeth begins to act as the “spur” to “prick the sides” of his “vaulting ambition”, instructing Macbeth to “look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under’t”; she is encouraging him to hide his “slaughterous thoughts” behind a “visage” of deceit (perhaps she views this as the most effective way to gain power as a woman in the patriarchal society). Her unmatched Machiavellian attitudes at this point portray her as in control over Macbeth (thus unbalancing their relationship), which is exemplified through her witchlike, masculine “cruelty” (this similarity between her and the “weird sisters” establishes Macbeth as the inferior figure in the play, possible conveying Shakespeare’s message to steadfastly occupy one’s place in the Great Chain of Being). Shakespeare is clearly demonstrating through Macbeth’s inferior position compared to Lady Macbeth that the patriarchy is perhaps wrong, and that women should not have to go to the extremes of invoking the “dunnest smoke of hell” to gain power in society. (You provide a detailed analysis of the language and imagery used by Shakespeare to depict the evolving power dynamics between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Your exploration of Lady Macbeth's control and the implications of gender stereotypes is insightful. (Ensure that you continue to track the changes in their relationship as the play progresses, as this is the core of the question.))
As the play develops, and Macbeth’s pursuits of gaining power increase, Lady Macbeth’s role diminishes. This is highlighted as she at first instructs Macbeth to “wash this filthy witness from your hand”, stating that “a little water clears us of this deed”. The imperative “wash” alludes to her current power over Macbeth. However, while Macbeth soon recovers and pursues his “foul reign” as a powerful (albeit corrupt) “tyrant”, Lady Macbeth instead claims that “all the perfumes of Arabia could not sweeten this little hand”. The repetition of the adjective “little” perhaps conveys her ultimately predetermined subservient role in society, despite any attempt to assume power over Macbeth. This is interesting considering her belittling emasculation of Macbeth and patronising comments including “you do unbend your noble strength so brain-sickly of things”. Shakespeare’s use of “brain -sickly” references how “full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife”, highlighting Lady Macbeth’s supposed awareness of the insurmountable effects of guilt. However, this portrayal is later undermined, proving that Lady Macbeth’s guilt potentially caused her later downfall and therefore inferiority compared to Macbeth. A contemporary religious audience would therefore recognise the consequences of sin and defying the highest power of the Great Chain of Being, God. (This paragraph effectively captures the shift in the relationship as Lady Macbeth's influence wanes and Macbeth's power grows. Your analysis of the language and symbolism is strong, and you make relevant connections to the societal context. (Consider exploring further how these changes in their relationship impact both characters and the narrative as a whole.))
In Act 5, Lady Macbeth is presented as sleepwalking in “slumbery agitation” while Macbeth rules as a “tyrant”. This relationship dynamic is finalised as Lady Macbeth dies off-stage, proving her ultimate subservience and weakness in her relationship. Macbeth responds “she should have died hereafter”. This can be interpreted as a callous reaction to his “dear” wife’s death, as he discards the event as a mere inconvenience. However, Macbeth may be perhaps exhibiting care of Lady Macbeth, simply wishing for her to live to see his expected successful reign. This portrayal cyclically demonstrates Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s care and admiration toward each other, signifying how ultimately, they both shared to common goal of gaining (monarchical) power, and were only divided by the harsh consequences of guilt and sin. Clearly, Shakespeare intends to prove that moral value exceeds any other form of judgement (such as gender), urging the audience to remain righteous (perhaps as a way to deter any threats to King James’ reign, following the Gunpowder plot). (Your analysis of Act 5 and the tragic conclusion of Lady Macbeth's character arc is well done. You make interesting points about the implications of their relationship and the broader themes of the play. (Be sure to clarify how their relationship has changed from the beginning to this point, to fully address the question.))
Overall, the relationship between Lady Macbeth, despite the changes in dynamic and power, remains cyclically equal. Furthermore, Shakespeare presents Lady Macbeth as a “dearest partner of greatness” to comment on the patriarchal society and its wrongfully imbalanced gender roles. (In your conclusion, you reiterate the cyclical nature of the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. You touch upon the societal commentary made by Shakespeare through their partnership. (It would be beneficial to summarize more explicitly how their relationship has evolved throughout the play, from equality to power struggle to downfall, to directly answer the question.))
Mark: 23 - 25 basically a level 5 grade 7/8 but i think grade 7
Overall feedback: Your essay demonstrates a strong understanding of the play and provides a thoughtful analysis of the changing relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. You effectively use textual evidence to support your points and make relevant connections to societal contexts. To improve, ensure that your analysis consistently tracks the evolution of their relationship throughout the play, as this is the focus of the question. Additionally, aim to provide a more comprehensive conclusion that encapsulates the full trajectory of their relationship.
What went well: Your use of textual evidence is strong, and your analysis of language and imagery is insightful. You effectively explore the themes of power and gender roles within the context of the play.
Even better if: To enhance your response, focus more on the progression of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's relationship throughout the play, ensuring that each point you make is clearly linked back to this central question. A more thorough conclusion that summarizes the changes in their relationship would also strengthen your essay.

Quick Reply

Latest

Trending

Trending