Character Analysis of Lady Macbeth

Character of Lady Macbeth

Character sketch of Lady Macbeth

Usually the heroine of a tragedy does not play a
decisive role. Nor does she takes the initiative and contribute substantially
to the action. But Lady Macbeth does. Like Macbeth she is also a misunderstood
character. It is because of her antithetical nature that she evokes such
divergent views. Some critics regard her as ‘a fiend’, ‘the fourth witch’, ‘a
cruel monster’ devoid of all human feelings. Some on the other hand consider
her to be a delicate, fragile, beautiful woman who unsexed herself only for the
sake of her husband.
It is true that Lady Macbeth had in this play
ambitious design like her husband, Macbeth. But she is not like Aeschylus’
Clytemnestra (Agamemnon) or cruel monsters like Goneril or Regan lacking
humanity. She is not driven by the crime of cold calculating energy; she is not
inspired by a relentless fate of her victims; she is not the remorseless
criminal who revels herself in bloodshed, not an unsexed woman of fame fatal
type
. She is not the ‘super witch’ what Goethe calls her. She is being called
the ‘fourth witch’ as she finished the task left by the three witches.
Surely Shakespeare sets the play by throwing
spotlight upon her unwomanly nature. But there is no denying in the fact that
Lady Macbeth is essentially a woman.
She is a twisted example of the saying, “Behind every
great man there’s a woman.”
  If she
is ambitious, she is ambitious for her husband. She wishes her husband to be
seated on the throne, wielding the scepter.

Also Read:

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👉Significance of Porter Scene

👉Macbeth as a Tragedy

👉Character of Macbeth

👉Character sketch of Banquo

👉Imageries and Symbols in
Shakespeare’s Macbeth

👉Macbeth Book Review, Synopsis

👉Character Analysis of Macduff

Illuminating the brighter side of the character of Lady
Macbeth
we find in her character true devotion to her husband. Their first
meeting is affectionate, “Great Glamis”, “My dearest love”. Throughout the play
their love highlights in “gentle my lord” and “worthy Thane” and “dear wife”,
“my love” and “dearest chuck”.
Lady Macbeth is a perfect judge of her husband’s
character
. She is well-aware of Macbeth’s strength and weakness:
                                                “Hie
thee hither
                                                That
I pour my spirit, in thine ear
                                                And
chastise with the valour of my tongue.”
                                                                             (Act-I,
Scene-V, Macbeth)

She
ignites her husband by raking the fire of his manly disposition time and again.
The
Lady apostrophizes the Black Spirit which can help her for murderous design.
She expresses that she wants to be a man and at once her head to foot must be
filled with most terrible cruelty. The initial impression we get about the lady
is frightening. How can a lady of flesh and blood say that she can kill her
babe while sucking milk from her breast? It is purely an image of fame fatal
(the diabolical lady):
                                                “Come,
you spirits
                                                That
tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
                                                And
fill me from the crown to the toe the top full
                                                Of
direst cruelty.”
                                                                             (Act-I,
Scene-V, Macbeth)
Lady Macbeth is a strong woman. Once
she sees that her husband’s ambition has been inflamed, she is willing to risk
anything to help him get the crown.
She appeals to the power of darkness to
come to her and “take her milk gall”. Therefore the role of Lady Macbeth is an
active as well as controlling one.
Lady Macbeth
possesses a strong sense of cunningness and presence of mind. It is she who
sketches the plan of killing Duncan. In the Banquet Scene when Macbeth is
haunted by the ghost of Banquo, She very skillfully saves the honour of her
husband by dismissing the guest.
The Sleep Walking Scene (Act-V, Scene-I), the finest
stroke of imagination is used in the drama with great and terrible dramatic
effect. Lady Macbeth in the earlier scene is born against her nature, against
womanhood and she has violated the divine relationship of host and guest. It is
now Nature’s turn to complete the nemesis- to complete the circle- sin and
punishment. Lady Macbeth in this scene is a patient of parasomnia, a clinical
psycho-neurological disorder
which is caused by her trouble thoughts. She is
being engrossed with a spot of blood.

                                      “Yet,
here is a spot.”
She rubs her hand in an abnormal way, but the
spot stays in her hit-oppressed brain. This serves the dramatic irony and
stands out as contrast:

                                      “A
little water clears us of his deed.”
Once she urged her husband to walk along the bloody
way. Today in an insane way she exaggerates:
                      “All
the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand…”
In the course of the play, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth
reverse their position. Macbeth goes from reasonable and loyal nobleman to a
tyrannical murderous despot. Lady Macbeth first appears to us to be a woman,
who is struggling to overcome her feminine delicacy, then succeeds and then
fails.

To quote Bradley, 

Lady Macbeth is perhaps
the most awe- inspiring figure that Shakespeare ever drew. Sharing certain
traits with her husband, she is at once clearly distinguished from him by an
inflexibility of will, which appears to hold imagination, feeling and
conscience completely in check.”


Thus, Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth is a misguided and misguiding wife who for the fulfillment of her husband’s desires prays to be nerved by unnatural access to ferocity but ultimately suffers a crash of finer spirit due to nemesis.

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