Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!

Did you know?

We also have Bitesize study guides covering many subjects at National 4 and National 5 on our Knowledge & Learning BETA website.

Home > English > Macbeth > The relationship of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth


The relationship of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is central to your understanding of the play - how and why the tragedy happens. If you want to write about this for your coursework, this timeline will remind you about the stages of their relationship and show you just how quickly it is destroyed by the events of the play.

A relationship in stages

Interpretations of the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth face each other in profile

Nicol Williamson and Jane Lapotaire in a traditional production from 1983

The stages are these -

Macbeth meets the witches

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are on exactly the same wavelength - so close they can almost read each other's thoughts when they are apart.

Planning the murder

Their relationship becomes even more intense - a passionate, obsessive, almost sexual excitement exists between them at this time.

The morning after the murder

Lady Macbeth appears shocked by Macbeth's killing of the guards. Suddenly she feels that the situation is getting out of control and Macbeth is becoming more violent. This is the first time we sense they are growing apart.

After the coronation

The time before the banquet is troubled. They are not sleeping. Macbeth begins to plan and think alone and shuts out Lady Macbeth from his thoughts.

The banquet

Lady Macbeth can do nothing to help him. At the end of the scene, she and her husband are no longer a partnership. He is determined to go back to the witches; all she can do is try to make him normal again.

After the banquet

There follows a long period when all Lady Macbeth can do is watch as Macbeth continues killing.

Lady Macbeth's madness and death: the isolation and the guilt have driven her mad.

Macbeth's death

Macbeth realises that his life no longer has any meaningand calmly faces his own death at the hands of Macduff.


A mock Shakespeare TV interview.

Class Clips

Video clip of a TV interview with Shakespeare, including a rock music video of Sonnet 18


Scene from Macbeth.

Class Clips

Macbeth - Act 1, Scenes 1 and 3


Scene from Macbeth.

Class Clips

Macbeth - Act 5, Scene 1


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.