Here’s an essay I wrote for my English 4 class. The topic for this essay is as follows:
The relationship betwen Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is of prime importance. Give sufficient analysis and examples of the nature of the relationship. (Complementary and conflicting elements, static and/or changing, depth of true understanding, degree of “evilness”, etc.)
Macbeth is a play about death, destruction, deceit, depravity and corruption. At the center of all this is Macbeth and Lady Macbeth (a quaint way of saying Macbeth’s wife). As the play progresses, their relationship changes dramatically as a result of how each of them handles their emotions following King Duncan’s murder.
In the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth is a strong, domineering person. She seems able to coerce Macbeth into doing things that he would not do on his own. She seems willing to trample anyone in order to get what she wants. She seems ready to kill. She would have no problem dancing on the backs of the bruised for the same reason stuck up rich people today don’t care about the starving kids in Africa–she has never seen or experienced it. When reading Macbeth’s letter that told of the witches’ prophecy she said, “Yet do I fear thy nature; it is too full o’ the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way.” She wanted to take the quick and dirty route to royalty (murder), but didn’t think Macbeth was up to it. She has never killed anyone (as far as we know), so she doesn’t understand why it would be so difficult.
Macbeth is a battle-hardened soldier who is no stranger to danger. He has killed more than a few men, women, and children in his day. We’re informed of that at the opening of the play when a sergeant tells of how Macbeth hunted down Macdonwald and “unseamed him from the nave to the chaps and fixed his head upon our battlements.” But Macbeth knew the difference between right and wrong. Macdonwald was a traitor and fully deserved to be cut in half. Killing Duncan was a different story. Murdering a good king/friend in order to gain wealth and power is not very P.C. and is downright immoral. When Lady Macbeth brought up killing the king he was hesitant to talk about such a thing, then blew her off and said, “We will speak further.” Of course, being the whipped little mama’s boy that he is, he was talked into her fiendish conspiracy plan.
When it came right down to it, Lady Macbeth couldn’t kill Duncan. She says, “Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done’t.” Of course that is a bunch of BS; in reality she was just too fainthearted to get the job done. This was her first sign of weakness, though it certainly was not her last. As the play progressed her emotions got the best of her and she was slowly transformed into a pitiful, spineless, little jellyfish who kills herself because she can’t take the heat. Near the end she goes insane and walks around saying odd things like, “Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!” She was obviously more than a little disturbed by her role in the king’s murder as well as the various other killings that had taken place. She was so far gone that the doctor proclaimed, “This disease is beyond my practice.”
Macbeth’s character changed in a much different manner. After killing the king, he felt empowered and soon began slaying more people. This feeling of empowerment also led to him doing things on his own and not letting his wife boss him around. Even when he is facing the final battle which he knows he will lose, he yells “At least we’ll die with harness on our back”, implying that he plans on fighting to the death and taking a few people down with him. By this time Macbeth and Lady Macbeth had grown apart and he was not too sad when Seyton told him, “The Queen, my lord, is dead.”
Different people deal with death in different ways. The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is a prime example of that. Macbeth basically thought, “Gosh, killing innocent people isn’t half bad. I think I’ll do it more often. Besides, I have to in order to cover my ass anyway.” Whereas Lady Macbeth’s thoughts were more along the lines of, “What have I done? I feel so terrible and evil. I’m going to go into seclusion because I’m not comfortable interacting with people anymore.” Such marked differences in philosophy tend to tear relationships apart and are usually not a part of a healthy marriage.