Critical Thinking

ENGU4 Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are

ENGU4

Laila El Helw

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Mrs. Jason

1/20/2018

                                                      Lady
Macbeth vs Macbeth

Lady Macbeth and Macbeth characters contrast when with one another,
nevertheless the main comparison between the two characters is their desire to attain
the thrown. However, when both characters rise to power this leads them to their
tragic demise. Throughout their journey they are influenced by the witches to
have enough ambition to acquire the thrown, however when they achieve their
goal they experience extreme guilt which leads them to their catastrophic deaths.

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are both driven
by ambition into attaining the thrown. Lady Macbeth is blinded by her ambition
that she tries to convince Macbeth of committing the greatest sin which is the
murder of an innocent man; Duncan. The following quote indicates to the reader how
strong Lady Macbeth’s ambitious drive is.

“Thou wouldst be great,                

Art not without ambition, but without

The illness should attend it.” (Act 1, scene 5) After reading the
letter from her husband, and learning that there may be a possibility of
Macbeth being King, Lady Macbeth is immediately influenced by the witches. Consequently,
Lady Macbeth tries to convince Macbeth to commit murder as she claims it is the
only way to become King.  Similarly,
Macbeth becomes determined to achieve the great title of becoming King,
therefore he is willing to do anything to get the title. “Let not light see my
black and deep desires.” Macbeth describes his ambition as being ‘black and
deep desires’ which hints to the reader that Macbeth’s ambition to take the
crown is so profound that he is willing to commit deadly sins. Macbeth is
hypnotized by the witches’ prophecy and fixated by the idea of being King that
he ignores his moral intuitive, and lets his ambition guide him to his goal of
being King.

 “I have no spur

To prick the sides of my intent, but only

Vaulting ambition”

(Act 1, scene 7)

Macbeth admits to himself that there is no good reason for killing
Duncan, the only reason he could find is that he wants the power all to
himself.

Both characters experience guilt, nevertheless in different ways.
For Macbeth guilt appears in the form of the ghost of Banquo, and for Lady
Macbeth guilt consumes her in her sleep. As readers we learn how Lady Macbeth isn’t
as malicious as she seems to be. We see Lady Macbeth’s vulnerable side through
her sleepwalking episodes that occur as a result of the guilt she experiences
after being part of the murder of an innocent man. In Act 5 scene 1, Lady
Macbeth says “The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now? What will these
hands ne’er be clean?” The following phrase, ” where is she now?” indicated that
Lady Macbeth did not plan the murder of Macduff’s wife, it was the crime of
that her husband committed, yet the crime is a burden in her conscious state of
mind. “What will these hands ne’er be clean” signifies that she stills feels
the blood of Duncan on her hands and she feels unclean, she knows that she will
live the rest of her life with the blood of another man on her hands. Subsequently,
Lady Macbeth displays signs of guilt while she sleepwalks. In Act 5 scene one,
“Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not
sweeten this little hand.” Lady Macbeth explains how she can still smell the
blood of Duncan on her hands, she says that no matter how many perfumes she
sprays on her hand, it will never get the smell of blood of her nose. She will
feels as if she is doomed for eternity, to suffer in her guilt for the gruesome
murders she has committed.  Likewise, Macbeth’s
guilt is presented in the form of the ghost of Banquo. In act 3 scene 4 “If
thou canst nod, speak too. If charnel houses and our graves musts send those
that we bury back.” The three witches predicted that the sons of Banquo would
also be King. In order to prevent this, Macbeth kills his friend and partner.  This guilt causes Macbeth to see Banquo’s
ghost at a feast. He tells Lady Macbeth that he sees Banquo’s ghost, and orders
the ghost to speak, he is convinced that there is no point in burying people
since they will return from their graves.

Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth had dissimilar reactions concerning
the witches’ prophecy, yet they were both equally influenced by them. Lady
Macbeth displays multiple actions which indicate to the reader how she is
greatly influenced by what the witches predicted. “Come, you spirits, unsex me
here,

And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full

Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.

Come to my woman’s breasts

And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,” (Act 1,
scene 5)

Lady Macbeth believes that she’s calling on evil spirits, she is
being driven into madness by the influence these spirits have on her. Lady
Macbeth is keen on doing all that is necessary to seize the throne, even if
means going against her morals. Her ambition is strong enough to drive her
husband onwards with the murder. “Unsex me here. Come to my woman’s breast, and
take my milk for gall.” Clearly indicates to the reader how Lady Macbeth is capable
of murder however her femininity is the only thing that is stopping her, this
is why she calls upon the witches and asks them to remove her gender. Subsequently,
she taunts Macbeth and tells him to ‘be a man’ and to go with the murder. Moving
on to Macbeth, he is greatly influenced by the witches’ prophecy.  In act 2 scene 2 “His cloister’d flight, ere
to black Hecate’s summons

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums

Hath rung night’s yawning peal, there shall be done

A deed of dreadful note.” The quote explains how Macbeth tries to
channel the witches when he talk about his strategy for the murder of Banquo
and Fleance. Throughout the play Macbeth shows signs of being captivated by
what the witches have predicted for him.  “Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all,

As the weird women promised, and, I fear

Thou play’dst most foully for’t”. (Act 3, scene 1)  The quote explains how Banquo suspects Macbeth
of murdering Duncan. He tells Macbeth that he has used foul means to achieve
what the witches has predicted. If Macbeth had not been influenced by what the
witches have predicted then he would not have thinking about their prophecy.

To conclude, both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are similar in many ways
yet they still contrast with each other on different levels, such as how they
react to the witches’ prophecy, or how they experience guilt; for example
Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo and Lady Macbeth sleepwalks. Nevertheless, Lady
Macbeth and Macbeth rise to power after being influenced by the witches’
prophecy, which leads them to become ambitious in committing multiple murders. As
a result both characters experienced moments of guilt, which lead them to their
tragic demise.

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth Bantam Books: New York. 2005. Print. 

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