The Wistful Tale of Macbeth

By: Laurana Mitchell

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Who is at Fault?

The Lady's to Blame

I believe Lady Macbeth is responsible for Macbeth´s downfall. Lady Macbeth is a terribly manipulative character, and is excessively power hungry. Even though Macbeth tries several times to back out of her wicked plan, she continues to drag him back in by belittling him and causing him to feel like a weak coward. When he first refuses to proceed with Duncanś murder, Lady Macbeth asks him ¨Wouldst thou have that which thou esteemśt the ornament of life, and live a coward in thine own esteem?¨(1.7.46-48). He takes this as an insult, as she refers to him as a coward and rethinks his decision to withdraw from the plan. Then, later when he is having second thoughts because Duncan has honored him she pleads, ¨That made you break this enterprise to me? When you durst do it, then you were a man¨(1.7.55-56). In this she is trying to make Macbeth feel guilty, like he promised her they would be royalty and is obligated to follow through with it. Lady Macbeth then proceeds to call him weak, saying "...I 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 so sworn as you have done to this" (1.7.63-67). She tries to make Macbeth feel as though he is weak, because she is saying that she would give up even the things she loved if she had made a promise to him, and that he should to the same. Overall Lady Macbeth mislead Macbeth into thinking that they would get away with Duncan's murder and believing he owed this to her, therefore it was Lady Macbeth who pushed him over the edge, and ultimately lead to his downfall.
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Literary Terms in Macbeth

Dynamic Character

Macbeth is an example of a dynamic character in Macbeth. This is because a the beginning of the play he is a brave, loyal soldier who is described first by a captain who says "As sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion. If i say sooth, I must report they were as cannons overcharged"(1.2.39-41). Later however, after he has murdered Duncan Macduff says to Malcolm, "Not in the legions of horrid hell can come a devil more damned in evils to top Macbeth"(4.3.66-68). In this Macduff is saying that Macbeth is so vicious, that even a devil would not look evil in comparison.


In Macbeth, the witches tell Macbeth prophesies that he will be Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland. At first he does not believe them and passes these of as lies, however Angus later brings news that the Thane of Cawdor is a traitor, and Macbeth will be receiving his title. As Macbeth slowly starts to believe the witches he says to himself, "Two truths are told, as happy prologues to the swelling act of the imperial theme....This supernatural soliciting cannot be ill; cannot be good. If ill, why hath it given me earnest of success, commencing in truth? I am Thane of Cawdor. If good, why do I yield to that suggestion whose horrid image doth unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs...."(1.3.149-158). This is an example of an aside because it gives the audience information about Macbeth's belief that the witches are telling the truth, that he doesn't want the other characters to know, but we as an audience must know to get the full story.

Dramatic Irony

One example of dramatic irony in Macbeth is when Lady Macbeth is welcoming Duncan into her home. She greets him saying "All our service in every point twice done, and then done doubled, were poor and single business to contend against those honors deep and broad wherewith your majesty loads our house. For those of old, and late dignities heaped up to them, we rest your hermits....Your servants ever have theirs, themselves, and what is theirs, in compt, to make their audit at your highness' pleasure, still to return your own"(1.6.17-23/30-33). She makes it seem like she is pleased to see him even though only moments before, she said to Macbeth "O, never shall sun that marrow see! Your face, my Thane, is a book where men may read strange matters. 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(1.5.70-77). Here she tells her husband that she will make sure Duncan never sees the morning, and that they must pretend like they are pleased to see him even though they are plotting his death.

Character Analysis

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Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth is an extremely intelligent and manipulative character. Most of her time in the first act is spent trying to convince her husband Macbeth to follow through with her wicked plan. She seems to want the crown and power more than Macbeth, and uses her manipulation to get it. She belittles, insults, and guilt's her husband into doing what she wants, and also is responsible for getting Duncan's guards drunk. Even after Duncan's murder she continues to lie and manipulate people to hide what she and Macbeth have done. Lady Macbeth is also seen as cold-hearted and having no morals. This is because while Macbeth constantly feels remorse for what he has done, Lady Macbeth seems to have no feeling at all. This however changes later on in the play when Lady Macbeth is seen to be going crazy and feels guilty for what she has done.

"Look Like The Flower.... Be The Serpent"

"Your face, my Thane, is as a book where men
May read strange matters. To beguile the time,
Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye,
Your hand, your tongue; look like th' innocent
But be the serpent under't" (1.5.73-78).

Lady Macbeth says this trying to convince her husband that she knows what she is doing, hopping that it will make him more comfortable, and more willing to follow through with her plan, and murder Duncan.

"Come, You Spirits...."

"Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.
Stop up th' access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
Th' effect and it. Come to my woman's breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murd'ring ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature's mischief. Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry "Hold, hold!" (1.5.47-61).

In this Lady Macbeth asks the spirits to make her into the man her husband should be, because she believes he is to week, kind, and compassionate. This shows she will do what ever it takes to get what she wants even if that means destroying herself as a person. After this Lady Macbeth seems to be cold-hearted, and feel no remorse for her actions. This later leads to her sudden guilt and insanity toward the end of the play.

"Art Not Without Ambition, But Without The Illness Should Attend It"

"Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full o' th' milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great,
Art not without ambition, but without
The illness should attend it" (1.5.15-20).

After reading the letter from Macbeth, Lady Macbeth immediately thinks of killing Duncan to get what she wants. She feels like the letter is a promise from her husband, but doesn't think he has the nerve to follow through with it. She believes that she will have to be man enough for both of them and begins her attempts to convince him to go with her plan. This shows her immediate dark thoughts as well as her tendency for manipulation.

Art of Manipulation

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I believe that this piece of art symbolizes my blame for Macbeth's downfall, because it shows how Lady Macbeth was manipulating Macbeth.

"O, proper stuff!
This is the very painting of your fear.
This is the air-drawn dagger which you said
Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws and starts,
Impostors to true fear, would well become
A woman's story at a winter's fire,
Authorized by her grandam. Shame itself!
Why do you make such faces? When all's done,
You look but on a stool" (3.4.70;73-81).

Lady Macbeth often uses insults to make her husband do what she wants. She feels that if she makes him feel weak then he will do as she asks to prove himself. In this quote, she is comparing him to an elderly woman, and saying he is not man enough to do what needs to be done.