The Dangerous Duo of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 26 Sep 2017 11:39:26


William Shakespeare’s Macbeth was first staged at the Globe theatre in the year 1606, possibly from a prompt book and is one of his shortest tragedies. The tragic play dramatises the detrimental psychological and physical consequences of Macbeth’s immoderate avaritia that leads to his downfall. James -l was the patron of Shakespeare’s acting company. His play clearly reflects his relationship with his sovereign. 

The brave Scottish general Macbeth falls for the device laid by the witches in form of apparitions. The three witches are regarded as the instruments of nemesis, the Goddess of Retributive Justice. Macbeth is blinded and consummated by Hubris. His atrocious ambition is fully affirmed by his wife, Lady Macbeth. He succeeds in murdering King Duncan and ascends the Scottish throne. His conscious is shattered and suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. He commits more crimes to shadow himself but emotions take a toll on both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Macbeth is one of the classic plays where romanticism reflects. In classical drama we define ‘destiny is character’. Destiny of the protagonist defines his character. But in Shakespeare’s drama, ‘Character is Destiny’. The character of the protagonist paves his destiny. In Macbeth, both destiny and character course their way, leading to a tragic downfall of Macbeth. Macbeth, the protagonist turned antagonist attributes qualities such as bravery, ambition and self-doubt.

Hamartia is a fatal flaw in character that brings about the downfall of the hero of a tragedy. Macbeth's moral weakness and hubris contributed to his untimely end. In the case of Lady Macbeth, avarice was her short coming, along with an intense desire to be the first Lady of the kingdom. Both the characters are twined by the weakness of their character in an impuissant manner in such a way that the guilt of their crime suffocates their mental stability.

Macbeth, in all his arrogance, claims that his "mind" and "heart" will "never sag with doubt nor shake with fear". He is so strung - out upon the prophecies of the witches that he allows himself to become vulnerable to attack. Shakespeare uses characterization and motifs to evince that hubris leads to a false sense of security, which will ultimately lead to a tragic end.

Perepetia is a sudden reversal of fortune or change in circumstances. Perepetia braces Macbeth twice. The first is just after Duncan is killed and the second is when he hires murderers to kill Fleance and Banquo. He says, "I am in blood / Stepp'd in so far,/ that, Should I wade no more, /Returning were as tedious as go o'er" (Act 3.Scene 4). Macbeth wasn't sure about killing Duncan but hubris came from his goading ambitious wife, who pressured him to polish off King Duncan. The second instance of Perepetia is noted in Macbeth's infamous soliloquy 'To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow' in the last act. Seyton tells Macbeth of Lady Macbeth's death, and Macbeth delivers this soliloquy, with his heart full of horrors and slaughterous thoughts, as his response to the news.

Lady Macbeth is the most ominous female character in the play. She in the beginning of the play surpasses her husband in spiritual redemption and becomes a strong pillar, supporting, and is his better partner in crime. She is the real steel behind her husband and her strength of purpose is contrasted with her husband's wavering tendency. A distinct streak of conflict between femininity and masculinity is noted in her character. The famous soliloquy, found in Act 1, scene 5 states "Unsex me here /…../….come to my women's breast, / And take my milk for gall", is very heart reeking.

The lines suggest that her breast denotes her womanhood, and this impedes her from committing a hideous crime, which she associates with manliness. She is willing to do everything necessary to seize the throne. She suppresses her maiden instincts such as compassion, motherhood, and fragility and seeks ambition, ruthlessness and the single-minded pursuit of power. She prods him into committing regicide and thus becomes the first Lady of Scotland. Unable to cope with guilty, she undergoes a psychologically painful trauma which eventually leads to her death.

When he, Macbeth learns about Lady Macbeth's death in Act 5, scene 5, he gets oddly muted. His heart is filled with grief of loosing his dear wife; his life is purposeless, without any meaning. Life 'is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / signifying nothing.' With armies marching against him and his wife dead, Macbeth succumbed to pessimism. In his self defense he sees everything meaningless nullifying his crimes, justifying himself the expression of his deeds which too 'signify nothing'. the play ends with a struggle between the audience and Macbeth's character as both hope for a better ending and struggling to accept the Drama's reality, his nihilism not only tunes his death but also the entire play.












Peenaz Mavalwala
MA-English, III Semester
R S Mundle Dharampeth Arts & Commerce College