Macbeth - Sample exam question

The question

Starting with this extract, how does Lady Macbeth use language to manipulate her husband in the play?

Write about:

  • how she persuades him to her point of view in this extract
  • how she uses her powers of persuasion in the rest of the play

The extract

We will proceed no further in this business.
He hath honoured me of late, and I have bought
Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
Not cast aside so soon.
Was the hope drunk
Wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since?
And wakes it now to look so green and pale
At what it did so freely? From this time,
Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valour
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting I dare not wait upon I would,
Like the poor cat i'th'adage?
Prithee, peace.
I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more is none.
What beast was't then
That made you break this enterprise to me?
When you durst do it, then you were a man.
And to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man. Nor time, nor place
Did then adhere, and yet you would make both.
They have made themselves and that their fitness now
Does unmake you. I have given suck and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums
And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn
As you have done to this.
If we should fail?
We fail?
But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we'll not fail.
Act 1 Scene 7

Before you go on to the next page, make some notes about what you might write.


  • Think about the key words in the question ('how', 'language').
  • Think about this extract – what is happening at this point? How does it affect Macbeth? Highlight some key points.
  • Think about Lady Macbeth and her persuasiveness across the entire play.