May 5, 2014 - Communication    2 Comments

Portrait of Lady Macbeth

I’d characterize Lady Macbeth as ambitious and ruthless. In either case, Shakespeare is clear in his portrait of Lady Macbeth, which we can see by examining her behaviour throughout the course of the play.
The first time we meet Lady Macbeth, she is reading a letter from her husband telling her of the witches’ promising predictions for his future. There is, apparently, love between them; Macbeth wants to share his fortuitous news with the woman he loves. She undoubtedly loves him; too however, she seems to know him well enough to be nervous for their future.
The first words she speaks after finishing the letter is about her husband “a man great in valour and unafraid of battle as a man lacking in ambition.” That’s not entirely true, as we find out later, but he clearly has less ambition than his wife. She’s afraid he won’t be willing to do what needs to be done (kill King Duncan) to achieve the goal of becoming King of Scotland. Once he arrives in person, she begins her campaign to spur her husband’s ambition into action.
On the night of the Duncan’s murder, Lady Macbeth has to convince her husband to do the deed. She is ruthless in her ambition, insulting his manhood and impugning his courage, saying she will do it if he is unwilling or unable. When it comes down to it, though, she can’t commit this cold-blooded murder. Soon after, though, Macbeth must sense some softening in his wife, for he fails to confide his next murderous plans to her. He plans and completes the murder of Banquo and the assassination of MacDuff’s family without telling her. His resolve grows as hers, apparently wanes.
As a result of ruthlessness in Lady Macbeth’s ambition she achieves the crown. She is racked with guilt and dies separated, at least emotionally, from the husband who she was a partner to at one time. Lady Macbeth is not a sympathetic character; however, she may not be an evil one, either.


  • Hello,

    This is an excellent piece, written with clear confidence. You have moved from understanding to show clear and perceptive inferences of character that you have justified with reference to the play.

    1) Look at your first paragraph – where you mention Macbeth showing evidence of having loved his wife, you could do with a supporting quotation from his letter.

    You should aim to use at least one quotation in each paragraph.

    2) Identify and begin to explore the effects of language and grammar devices – how might this impact your interpretation of character? Why?

  • This is a very well written piece of character exploration that uses sophisticated language to express your ideas.
    Which question task were you completing? (this is not clear and it would help to include this so your answer can be compared to the question).
    Also, although it is great that you have further knowledge of the play and have used it within your explanation of Lady Macbeth’s character, the focus for this task should just be on Act 1 and 2 in order to have a more detailed analysis. For this you should make sure to include and analyse a quotation per point/paragraph (what does it tell us about Lady Macbeth).

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