Lady Macbeth

10 October 2016

Macbeth is a tragic play written by William Shakespeare and tells the story of the seemingly brave warrior, Macbeth. However, due a prophecy created by the witches, Macbeth becomes over-ambitious and commits regicide. The rest of the story demonstrates how the crimes he committed led to his inevitable downfall. Rupert Goold directed a film adaptation of Macbeth starring Patrick Steward and Kate Fleetwood. The film adaptation used uniforms comparable to Soviet Union. However, the name of all characters and the place names are kept the same as in the play.

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The film adaptation of Macbeth is very dramatic, with lots of tension, suspense and gore to keep the audience attentive. One of the main characters in the play is Lady Macbeth, wife to Macbeth. She is an extremely ambitious woman who is infatuated with power and glory. In the play she is shown as a powerful and dominating character. This is also the case in the film adaptation, where is also presented as a sexual temptress. The first time we see Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play is in Act 1 Scene 5, where she reads a letter from Macbeth stating that the witches have prophesized him to be the future king of Scotland.

As she awaits for the arrival of King Duncan, she performs her soliloquy to the spirits. In this soliloquy, we realise that her ambition for Macbeth to be King is powerful. She speaks in iambic pentameter “Come to my woman’s breasts, And take my milk for gall,” She is preparing to murder King Duncan so she wants to get rid of any womanly qualities and become more violent and cruel like a man. The iambic pentameter shows that she is in control of her own speech. As well as this, we understand that she is a prominent character in the play as she has her own soliloquy.

She is also willing to reject the traditional role of motherhood when she addresses Macbeth. “…look like the innocent flower But be the serpent under’t” In this part, we realise that she is a cunning woman who doesn’t consider herself as kind. She is presented arguably as a fourth witch due to the fact that her manner of speech is similar to theirs. The term ‘serpent’ can be a biblical allusion as the serpent was the crafty animal that tempts Eve to eat an apple on the tree of life. This re-enforces the fact that Lady Macbeth is a temptress.

The film adaptation shows her descending from a lift, which represents a dark, eerie atmosphere. The camera shot is an extreme close up going in a circle to highlight her greedy, power-hungry facial expression. The circular camera angle can also be seen as proleptic irony, when she becomes mad later in the story. She is dressed in a white robe to show ironic innocence and make up to emphasize her power and authority. She is then included in the play in Act 1 Scene 7, where she is trying to persuade Macbeth into killing Duncan.

She again portrays her malicious, merciless character, “Art thou afeard… ”, “coward” and “Screw your courage to the sticking wall and we’ll not fail. ” From this, we deduce that she is a ‘Machiavellian villain’ who is willing to do whatever she can to get what she wants. Additionally, she bullies and taunts her husband into committing the murder. In Rupert Goold’s film adaptation, the camera angle peering slightly through the door, like a person eavesdropping on a conversation.

Furthermore, extreme close-up shots are made to show the fear and nervousness in Macbeth’s face alongside Lady Macbeth’s greedy, malevolent face. The lines are delivered in a fearful, tense tone to build up dramatic tension. Lady Macbeth is featured in Act 2 Scene 2 when King Duncan is murdered. In the play she isn’t depicted as inhumane. “Had he not resembled My father as he slept, I had done’t. ” This shows that she has some form of humanity and that ironically this allows her to feel remorseful and have a guilty conscience.

In the film adaptation she much less regretful and covered in blood alongside Macbeth. This perhaps suggests that she is still close with Macbeth and interestingly shows their love for each other. The lighting used is green, to show that Lady Macbeth is snake-like. Rupert Goold uses stichomythia in his film adaptation when Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are speaking. “Did you not speak? When? Now. As I descended? Aye. ” The rapid, stylised dialogue is used to create a sense of madness in the characters and build-up of tension in the audience.

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