How similar are the reactions of Macbeth and Banquos

Quick overview
  • Lady Macbeth is characterized by great ambition, but also shortsightedness.
  • Once she learns of the prophecies, she worships the dark forces to take their gender and compassion.
  • From then on: Similarities to the witches, increasing brutality and above all unscrupulousness.
  • After Duncan's murder: Fades into the background, loses her dominant position over Macbeth.
  • More and more desperate about her knowledge of the murders or her guilt.
  • Finally kills himself.



1. Characteristics of the person


Lady Macbeth is even more morbid than Macbeth ambition embossed. She first appears after reading Macbeth's letter about the prophecies. Just like with Macbeth, the first thoughts of murder arise in her immediately. Lady Macbeth, however, is not frightened by these and does not try to suppress them. Much more, it lets your thoughts run free. The only thing that worries her at this point is that her husband may be too kindhearted to commit regicide.

Quote: act 1, scene 5, verse 13ff
Lady Macbeth:

Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
What thou art promised; yet do I fear thy nature,
It is too full of human kindness
To catch the nearest way.

She already suspects that she has to change Macbeth's mind and help him with the murder. To this end, she speaks to the dark forces and asks them to turn them into an unscrupulous beast:

Quote: Act 1, Scene 5, Verse 38ff
Lady Macbeth:

Come on, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here
And fill me from the crown to the toe topfull
Of direst cruelty.

From now on you can Similarities Between the Witches and Lady Macbeth determine. In her appeal, she asks the dark forces to steal her sex ("unsex me here"), putting herself on a par with the sexless witches. And just like the witches, Lady Macbeth makes no secret of her cruelty - at least from her husband:

Quote: Act 1, Scene 7, Verse 54ff
Lady Macbeth:

I have given suck and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums
And dashed the brains out, had I sworn

Lady Macbeth also follows the motto "fair is foul, and foul is fair", which the witches uttered. When Macbeth hesitates for a short time whether he should really commit the murder, she connects terms such as "masculinity" or "love" with the crime and thus completely reverses their values.
But there are also differences to the witches: Lady Macbeth hides her cruelty towards people other than her husband, which the witches probably would not do (they only encounter Banquo and Macbeth in the play, so one can only guess). Lady Macbeth still cannot see into the future. That goes without saying, but is sharply pointed in the piece, because Lady Macbeth is characterized by hers myopia out. After reading the letter, all she thinks about is the murder and thus her coronation as queen. She does not consider that the murder could go wrong

Quote: act 1, scene 7, verse 61
Lady Macbeth:

And we'll not fail.

she is still considering the consequences of the murder. She does not take into account how her husband could change through the murder, nor how she will later cope with the crime.
One of the few human traits recognize, because towards the end of the drama Lady Macbeth despairs of the crime wave that she has triggered or at least encouraged. Another human trait is her refusal to kill Duncan herself, as he was like her father in his sleep:

Quote: Act 2, Scene 2, Verse 12f
Lady Macbeth:

Had he not resembled
My father as he slept, I had done`t

Apparently her wish to be completely dehumanized (see "unsex me here") has not come true, or at least she was humanized again after she committed the crime.
As a result of her desperation, Lady Macbeth dies at the end of the drama. While it's not outspoken, it can be assumed that she committed suicide.



1.1. Relationship to Macbeth and Importance in Drama


The relationship between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth is initially characterized by affection:

Quote: act 1, scene 5, verse 9f (letter)
Lady Macbeth (reads):

(...)
to deliver thee, my dearest partner of
greatness
(...)

Quote: act 1, scene 5, verse 57

Nonetheless, Lady Macbeth is that dominant Person in the relationship. It is she who instructs Macbeth for the first time to keep appearances

Quote: act 1, scene 5, verse 63
Lady Macbeth:

look like th`innocent flower,
But be the serpent under`t.

and it is Lady Macbeth who persuades Macbeth to murder again after Macbeth has shown concerns (see above). It is also she who works out the plan how to kill Duncan.
But the relationship is going through a double shift.
On the one hand, their collaboration changes from partners in greatness to partners in crime. After the first act, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth no longer exchange expressions of affection. Instead, they only help each other to maintain the facade. Lady Macbeth feigns a fit of weakness as soon as Macduff asks why Macbeth killed the supposedly guilty guards directly instead of arresting them, and Lady Macbeth apologizes for Macbeth's behavior at the banquet with a rare disease from which her husband suffers.
On the other hand the relationship of dominance also changes within the relationship. While Lady Macbeth is clearly the dominant person at the beginning, after the murder it is Macbeth who takes control. So he only calls Lady Macbeth "dearest chuck" (act 3, scene 2, verse 45), which means something like "my dearest chick". In return, Lady Macbeth often only addresses Macbeth as "Sir", or uses the more formal "you" instead of "thee". In order to meet her husband at all, Lady Macbeth must first send a messenger and ask whether this is acceptable to King Macbeth.
In the course of this change in the nature of the relationship, communication between the two dies as well. After the banquet, there is no more scene of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth talking. Their significance for the decisions of Macbeth ends largely with the murder of Duncan. Lady Macbeth fades further and further into the background. After the banquet, her next appearance is just the sleepwalking scene. Finally, the viewer or reader learns of her death - but again only through other people.
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