Monday, November 26, 2012

Lady Macbeth

This is the first time I am reading Macbeth and I had no idea how much I would enjoy reading it. The play is very similar to Richard III but I think that Lady Macbeth adds a little twist to the plot. I was struck by how she was more evil then Macbeth. Lady Macbeth makes him feel like less of a man when he thinks about not killing King Duncan stating “When you durst do it, then you were a man; And to be more that what you were, you would/Be so much more the man” (1.7.49-51). She wants Macbeth to know that in her eyes her was more of a man when he wanted to kill Duncan and he must do it to be a real man. She clearly gave him the kick in the rump he needed to enact the murder of Duncan. One of her best examples which highlights keeping a promise is when she says:
...I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love a babe that milks me./
I would, while it was smiling in my face,/
Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums/
And dashed the brains out, had I sworn/
As you have done to this.” (1.7.54-59)
Her words are gruesome and bold because as a mother she is basically saying she would kill her child to keep a promise. To even think about using your child as an example is awful especially when you think of a moment that is supposed to be so tender turned into something so ugly. You have to wonder, would she really do it. Lady Macbeth's speech shows how ludicrous she truly is and it makes me wonder why she is so intent on instigating Macbeth. Does she want the power as Queen? Her words and actions reveal her as one of the most powerful women Shakespeare has created in one of his plays. Unlike the docile female characters, Lady Macbeth has a voice and she wants it to be heard.


Brianna said...

Despite Lady Macbeth being a rude, awful character I can’t help but be fixated on her need for power as she struggles to get Macbeth to kill people to ultimately get the king. I believe she is a very powerful character until the end when she unfortunately becomes taken over by her own greed. We see this in the scene with the Doctor, when she is constantly washing her hands and sleep walking and talking. I think her ability to criticize Macbeth’s masculinity, though rude, is a very powerful aspect of her personality. She has the ability to speak out, and her voice is heard by her husband. What this also makes me question is the patriarchal aspect of this society. I think it is interesting that behind closed doors Lady Macbeth has the upper hand over her husband who is supposed to be her “ruler”. She had the power to persuade her husband to kill someone to get the power. Overall, I am not positive as to how we are really supposed to feel about Lady Macbeth, should we embrace her power, shun her for her behavior, or is it just innately human to strive for what you want and do and say what you need to get it?

Amanda Wolfer said...

Very interesting post, I agree that Lady Macbeth is the most powerful woman Shakespeare has ever created. I also think he created her to be crazy. By the end of the play, she is mentally incapable which makes me a little mad. Lady Macbeth was a strong, outgoing lady and it was too bad she couldn't remain that way the rest of the play. Shakespeare had to make her crazy for her personality to be acceptable in their society.

Anonymous said...

Lady Macbeth is on a power trip. She is so greedy that she is vile. I don't see her as powerful but manipulative. It is no surprise that her conscious eats away at her and drives her mad, well it is surprising that she even has a conscious. I think it is interesting that Macbeth still cares for her, even after all her goading. She deserves what she gets.
As we move through the plays it is apparent that Shakespeare created such diverse female characters. Fortunately for us they are not all evil like Lady Macbeth or empty headed like Ophelia but strong and independent like Beatrice and Hermia. If not, even despite the time period I would wonder what his problem with women was!

Stacy Carter said...

I think that Lady Macbeth is definitely on a crazy power trip, and I think that it has a lot to do with her problems with her femininity. She asks to be "unsexed," which makes it obvious that she is unhappy with her role as a woman, most likely because of her LACK of power in comparison with men. From the way she insults Macbeth's masculinity when he has doubts about Duncan's murder, we can assume that she sees power as being masculine, so it has been out of her reach.

Nicole Belladone said...

I think Lady Macbeth is a fascinating character and I loved this play immediately, as it differed from past plays, giving us a different outlook on the role of female characters and the abilities they have. Lady Macbeth differs from most of the female characters that Shakespeare creats. At first she is seen as a smart, kind of evil, brave and strong character, but as the play goes on and after the murders (work that is more appropriate and gruesome for men) Lady Macbeth falls apart and loses her sanity. Shakespeare gives his audience a vision of cosequence of women involving themselves in power, control and even murder.

Cyrus Mulready said...

You chose an interesting (and infamous!) series of lines to comment upon, Myra. Scholars have long argued what to make of these lines, since it seems clear that the Macbeths have no children. Is she making this up? I recently had the thought that perhaps what she is saying here is not just that she is evil enough to kill an infant, but that she also would not want to let a child come into this world. What if, in other words, we imagine these lines as a statement of her twisted idea of charity and sympathy?