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Home > English > Macbeth > The character of Lady Macbeth

English

The character of Lady Macbeth

Before the murder (Act 1, Scene 7)

How does Lady Macbeth persuade her husband to kill Duncan when he does not want to?

Lady Macbeth uses different methods to persuade Macbeth to change his mind. Which one really affected Macbeth?

  • She says it was his idea first. This is her opening line - simply pointing out that he raised the idea first.
  • She taunts Macbeth's masculinity - calling him a coward. This is an important part of her approach. Macbeth's rank and fame depend on his courage and bravery.
  • She says he cannot love her. This personal taunt really hits home for Macbeth. It is unexpected because their relationship is so intense.

 

Video clip: Different interpretations of Lady Macbeth in this scene

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These three points lead on to the following question:

Why does Lady Macbeth say she would kill their child?

Lady Macbeth has lost a child when it was very young. It's really shocking when she says she would have smashed it to the floor rather than go back on a promise. Why is this?

  • This would be the ultimate sacrifice. She makes the point that she knew the joy of being a mother, and would have given that up for Macbeth to be king.
  • She uses terrible, violent imagery as a shock tactic. She realises that Macbeth's doubt needs to be overcome quickly and this needs extreme measures. If they delay one night, the chance is gone.

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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