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Home > English > Macbeth > The character of Lady Macbeth

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The character of Lady Macbeth

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How does the character of Lady Macbeth develop throughout the play? Think about the key events of the play and Lady Macbeth's changing thoughts and feelings, before working through some important questions about Lady Macbeth's character. We have chosen quotations to support the points made, but try to find other examples yourself to use in your essays. Look at how quickly Lady Macbeth fades out of the action. It is only a matter of days between the point where she is driving Macbeth to kill Duncan, and the point when she loses touch with him completely.

Interpretations of Lady Macbeth

A modern day version of Lady Macbeth dressed in a sports vest, standing in her council house kitchen

Susan Fidler plays Lady Macbeth in a modern day, council estate set 1995 production

The effect of the letter (Act 1, Scene 5)

How does Lady Macbeth react to the letter from Macbeth?

Lady Macbeth's reaction when she reads her husband's letter is powerful and dramatic.

  • As soon as she's finished reading, she has decided she will make sure Macbeth is king. It's as if she and her husband are thinking exactly the same thing. She does not hesitate for a moment.
  • Lady Macbeth invites the spirits of evil to enter her. She knows she has to steel herself, that the murder will need evil power, and evil is not naturally within her.
  • She knows immediately that murdering Duncan is the only way of quickly achieving her goal. When Macbeth brings further news that Duncan is actually coming to spend that night with them, it becomes clear that her role is to seize the moment and facilitate her husband's rise to kingship.
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Watch

A Lady Macbeth actress.

Class Clips

Video clip - an actress talks about different ways to portray Lady Macbeth's character

Watch

Scene from Macbeth.

Class Clips

Video clip - how historical context should affect our interpretations of Lady Macbeth

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