Lady Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most famous and frightening female characters. When we first see her, she is already plotting Duncan’s murder, and she is stronger, more ruthless, and more ambitious than her husband. She seems fully aware of this and knows that she will have to push Macbeth into committing murder. At one point, she wishes that she were not a woman so that she could do it herself. This theme of the relationship between gender and power is key to Lady Macbeth’s character: her husband implies that she is a masculine soul inhabiting a female body, which seems to link masculinity to ambition and violence. Shakespeare, however, seems to use her, and the witches, to undercut Macbeth’s idea that “undaunted mettle should compose / Nothing but males” (1.7.73–74). These crafty women use female methods of achieving power—that is, manipulation—to further their supposedly male ambitions. Women, the play implies, can be as ambitious and cruel as men, yet social constraints deny them the means to pursue these ambitions on their own.
Lady Macbeth manipulates her husband with remarkable effectiveness, overriding all his objections; when he hesitates to murder, she repeatedly questions his manhood until he feels that he must commit murder to prove himself. Lady Macbeth’s remarkable strength of will persists through the murder of the king—it is she who steadies her husband’s nerves immediately after the crime has been perpetrated. Afterward, however, she begins a slow slide into madness—just as ambition affects her more strongly than Macbeth before the crime, so does guilt plague her more strongly afterward. By the close of the play, she has been reduced to sleepwalking through the castle, desperately trying to wash away an invisible bloodstain. Once the sense of guilt comes home to roost, Lady Macbeth’s sensitivity becomes a weakness, and she is unable to cope. Significantly, she (apparently) kills herself, signaling her total inability to deal with the legacy of their crimes.
More characters from Macbeth
When Duncan is in his house at Inverness, Macbeth comes to a decision not to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth convinces Macbeth, who decided strongly against murdering Duncan, to go ahead with their plan to murder Duncan. Lady Macbeth is very successful at persuading him to do things that he knows are wrong. Macbeth is not an evil person, but when he is allowed to be influenced by Lady Macbeth, he is vulnerable to committing deeds he knows are wrong. Lady Macbeth entirely breaks the stereotype of women being kind and benevolent in the first act. After Macbeth writes home telling of his murderous plans, Lady Macbeth begins talking to evil spirits. Because women often lack the ruthlessness to kill someone, Lady Macbeth asks the spirits to make her male. One of the most vivid descriptions of Lady Macbeth’s wickedness is directly after Macbeth announces to her he does not want to kill Duncan. This speech epitomizes Lady Macbeth’s evilness. She is ruthless, and her evil accounts for the murders that occur throughout the play Macbeth.
Lady Macbeth is far more savage and ambitious than her husband, yet she convinces Macbeth to commit the murders that will make them king and queen.
Macbeth is without his wife’s cruel and uncompassionate attitude towards life. Lady Macbeth is aware that her husband is genuinely a gentle person. However, she is able to manipulate Macbeth into committing evil deeds in order to achieve her desires.
Lady Macbeth fears that Macbeth lacks enough courage and killer instinct to murder Duncan. Lady Macbeth might be a more vicious individual, but she is more afraid than Macbeth about killing Duncan. She never mentions herself committing the murder, and she always insists upon Macbeth executing the killing. The opportunity arises for Lady Macbeth to murder Duncan, but she decides not to. This is the first humane feeling that we see from Lady Macbeth in the play. Her desires and inspiration are very strong, but when opportunity presents itself, she cannot carry through with the act. Therefore, she uses her husband’s vulnerability to persuasion to achieve her dreams.
The relationship between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth is based on political triumphs, not love. Lady Macbeth often accuses her husband of talking but not carrying through his ambitions. Although, she often talks about becoming queen of Scotland and murdering Duncan, she never does anything to help this cause. The qualities that it takes to murder a king are not present in Lady Macbeth. She recognizes this, and convinces Macbeth to kill Duncan so she can achieve her dreams. Macbeth’s reign as king of Scotland will be short, yet she will enjoy royal luxuries long after her husband is dead. Lady Macbeth is only concerned with the advantages she can have by being married to Macbeth. If Macbeth becomes king by murdering many people, she can reap the benefits of his killing without doing anything. When Macbeth considers not murdering Duncan, Lady Macbeth quickly becomes offended and she accuses her husband of not being a man. Just mentioning the prospect of not murdering Duncan infuriates Lady Macbeth. She refuses to accept the possibility of failure and she is obsessed with the process of gaining absolute power..
Lady Macbeth has become totally engrossed in becoming queen of Scotland. She is relentless in her pursuit of this goal, and she will kill anyone who is in the way of the throne. She is able to influence Macbeth into murder by telling him they are presented with an extraordinary opportunity. When Macbeth presents the possibility of failure, Lady Macbeth becomes enraged and attacks his cowardliness and manhood. Nothing will stop Lady Macbeth from achieving her goal of becoming queen. She is completely aware of the consequences of murdering Duncan, but she disregards them. Before the murder she calls night to cover up the murder. Lady Macbeth at least can acknowledge that the murder is wrong and immoral by calling down darkness to hide her murder. She is not completely a ruthless psychotic, and she knows the difference between right and wrong. This, however, further emphasizes the desire and ambition that Lady Macbeth possesses to be queen. She realizes the numerous negative effects of murdering Duncan, but she neglects them because, more than anything else, she wants to be a queen.
Lady Macbeth is plagued by her desire to become a queen. In the pursuit of her ambitions, she will sacrifice everything. She follows this advice in everything she does. When she sees Duncan murdered, she immediately pretends to faint. Unlike Macbeth, who has expressed doubts about becoming king, Lady Macbeth is merciless against anyone who is in the way of the king. Because Macbeth is unsure about murdering Duncan, Lady Macbeth does everything possible to convince Macbeth to carry out their plans. Lady Macbeth’s desires rely on Macbeth’s murders.
In order to accomplish her dreams, Lady Macbeth manipulates and convinces Macbeth to do things that he is against. But because of her intense ambition to be queen, nothing can prevent her from achieving this goal.