Key scenes of Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth, who is 'manipulative', 'two-faced' and 'cold-blooded'. Quotation: ìCome, you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me hereÖî

After the murder (Act two, Scene three)

Without warning during this scene, Lady Macbeth faints. This has been argued about ever since the play was first performed. Does she faint to distract attention, because the others might see through Macbeth's elaborate excuses? Or is it because she is genuinely shocked and overcome and her strength suddenly leaves her?

Why does Lady Macbeth faint?

It's difficult to find evidence for your answer to this question, because Lady Macbeth says so little in the scene.

She's distracting attention. Well, you could say this - depending on how you read the scene. Certainly her line Help me hence, ho!(Act two, Scene three, Line 18) could be said in a theatrical way to distract attention.

She feels suddenly alone and scared by Macbeth's words and actions. They planned everything together, but now things are beginning to get out of control with the murder of the two guards. Macbeth may have been directing his angry words at her. His fury and menace would really be frightening, especially as earlier in the play she thinks he would be too mild to kill the king in the first place.

Lady Macbeth is shocked by the guards' murders. She was not prepared for more death. This is a good point to make. She thought the killing of Duncan would be the end of the story.

The banquet (Act three, Scene four)

This scene is a turning point in the play because it marks the point where Lady Macbeth loses touch with Macbeth. Follow her reactions during the scene.

Her persuasion no longer works on him. She scolds him in the same way as before the murder, but this time it's different. She doesn't really know what's wrong - she can't see the ghost.

She cannot understand Macbeth's faith in the supernatural. She always looks for natural ways of putting things right. While he prepares for more killing, she looks for simple, natural ways of coping - a little water, sleep.

Lady Macbeth is still concerned they act, and cope, as a couple. This is important. Remember she can only really have power through her husband. She has no power of her own. So her main worry is the guests see them as man and wife, king and queen.