First Impressions of Lady Macbeth

7 July 2016

Lady Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most famous and frightening female characters. Women, as the play implies, can be as ambitious and cruel as men, yet social limits deny them the means to pursue these ambitions on their own. Lady Macbeth is an example of how women use their female methods of achieving power: for example through manipulation.

One of the impressions that the audience get when they first meet Lady Macbeth is that she is very ambitious. In Act 1, Scene 5 when Macbeth enters she says to him “Thy letters have transported me beyond this ignorant present, and I feel now the future in the instant.” After reading her husband’s letter (bearing news of the witch’s prophesies), her thoughts immediately turn toward the “future” that she imagines for herself and her husband. Her dreams of being the wife of a king are so vivid and so real to her, it’s as though time has completely collapsed, and she feels the “future in the instant.”

First Impressions of Lady Macbeth Essay Example

However, the audience senses a great deal of mercilessness within Lady Macbeth. She has already started to plot Duncan’s murder after she says “And that which rather thou dost fear to do than wishest should be undone”. She realises that the shortest route to the throne is murder and that she cannot rely on Macbeth. Also, when Macbeth brings further news that Duncan is actually coming to spend that night with them, it becomes clear that her role is to seize the moment and assist her husband’s rise to kingship.

Shakespeare has created a character like Lady Macbeth to show the ruthless side of women. One place in the book where it is evident that Lady Macbeth is ruthless is when she invites the evil spirits to enter her. When she says “Make thick my blood…no compunctious visitings…take my milk for gall…”, it is clear to the audience that she wants to make sure that she has no thoughts of guilt or regret and that she feels no compassion. She also asks the evil spirits to rid her of her femininity and to make her man-like. This is because the murder will need evil power and evil is not naturally within her. This makes the audience anticipate Duncan’s death and makes them curious about how ruthless Lady Macbeth will actually be in the future, nearer the time of Duncan’s murder.

Lady Macbeth could also be presented as a disturbed character. In Act One, Scene 5 when she has received the letter from Macbeth she immediately starts to plan and take matters into her own hands. She knows immediately that the only way for her to achieve her goal of being queen is to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth then says something quite witchy; she invites evil spirits to enter her.

“Come you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here; and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty”. This comment shows that Lady Macbeth wants to dedicate herself entirely to her evil ambition. Lady Macbeth is ready to go to extreme lengths just to make sure her plan works and gets what she wants, and will get rid of anyone who is in her way. This again makes the readers want to see her ‘disturbedness’ in action and this makes them think of cunning ways of how Lady Macbeth will kill Duncan.

Finally, a key characteristic of Lady Macbeth that the audience understands when they first meet her is how evil she is. One place where the audience witness how evil she is, is when she says “O never shall sun that morrow see”. This short yet powerful sentence makes the audience imagine that Lady Macbeth has something evil up her sleeve. When she says this sentence, she says is with a fierce and evil tone in her voice, which shows that Lady Macbeth is willing and determined to steel herself and make herself into an evil, cold person.

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