Olivia Grieve

The Downfall of Macbeth

Lady Macbeth is responsible for the downfall of Macbeth. She is manipulative and controlling. She will do whatever she can to get what she wants. In the beginning, Lady Macbeth reads a letter from Macbeth telling of the witches prophecies. She believes in the witches prophecies and thinks Macbeth should kill the king. After reading she says, "...'Thus thou must do,' if thou have it; and that which rather thou dost fear to do than wishest should be undone" (Shakespeare 33). She is saying that she knows Macbeth wants to be king but he may be too kind to murder. She then tries to convince Macbeth to kill the king by insulting his masculinity and calling him a coward: "Wouldst thou have that which thou esteem'st the ornament of life, and live a coward in thine own esteem, letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would"..." (Shakespeare 43). Even after the murder of King Duncan, Lady Macbeth scorns Macbeth for being a coward which makes him feel even worse about the murder, fueling his ambition: "My hands are of your color, but I shame to wear a heart so white....Your constancy hath left you unattended" (Shakespeare 59). Lady Macbeth is saying that they have both committed the murder, but she would be ashamed to be as much of a coward as he is.

Literary Devices

Shakespeare uses many literary devices in Macbeth including symbolism. When Lady Macbeth is talking to herself about the approaching murder of King Duncan, she says, "The raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan..." (Shakespeare 35). The use of the word raven was appropriate because ravens are used as a symbol for evil and death which are both included in Lady Macbeth's plan to kill the king. Verbal irony is also used in Macbeth when Lady Macbeth is being a very nice and generous host, even though later she plans to kill the king. Before the supper she says to Macbeth, "To beguile the time, look like the time; bear welcome in your eye, your hand, your tongue; look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under't" (Shakespeare 35). While Macbeth and Lady Macbeth know that they are about to commit murder and treason, they still have to act like they are happy to be serving the king and be kind hosts. This also shows how manipulative Lady Macbeth can be. The device is used to demonstrate that the couple is very paranoid and wants power so much that they are willing to come up with an elaborate plan just to make sure that they do not get caught in the act. There is also a tragic hero in this play: Macbeth. After Macbeth kills Duncan, he nervously tells Lady Macbeth, "I have done the deed..." (Shakespeare 55). The reader knows that Macbeth has made a very big mistake by listening to his wife because he has now committed a very serious crime and he will not stop until he has secured the throne, leading to his insanity and later his death.

Movie Connection

Amy Dunne from the movie Gone Girl resembles Lady Macbeth. Amy appears to at first be afraid of her husband before she disappears, presumably murdered by her husband. This basically ruins her husband's entire reputation, public image, and life. It is later to be found out that she lied about the entire thing to frame her husband for her murder. She is also a manipulative and controlling character who had a complex and well thought out plan to ruin her husband.
Gone Girl Official Trailer #2 (2014) Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike HD

Song Connection

The song "I Want it All" from High School Musical 3 relates to Lady Macbeth's reasoning for the murder of the king. The lyrics, "You know that you want it, the fame and the fortune and more" shows how Lady Macbeth is trying to convince Macbeth to murder the king because of all the power and riches they will have once he becomes king.
High School Musical 3 - I Want It All (Lyrics) 1080pHD