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Jamison, Ashley

Mrs. Davis
English 10- Green CP
5/19/16
All Hail, Macbeth, Thou Shalt Be King Hereafter!: Power and Control in Shakespeares The
Tragedy of Macbeth
During 1603 James VI of Scotland reigned in England as King James I, increased rule
and influence became important desires for Scottish rulers, commonly appearing toward the
beginning of Scottish plays. Although motivation from others leads to an achieved goal, guilt
causes many downfalls near the end of a play. William Shakespeare creates the theme of power
and control in The Tragedy of Macbeth. Lady Macbeth wants Macbeth and herself to become
stronger and more powerful people, while Macbeth strives to become king; however, he hesitates
to kill the current king due to his loyalty. Lady Macbeth mocks Macbeth to provoke him to kill
King Duncan, because she believes he lacks manliness and that this pushes him to accomplish
his goal. Macbeths and Lady Macbeths guilt strives from the desire for power. Men grow angry
and suspicious of Macbeths fascination of power and contribute to his downfall. Lady
Macbeths guilt overpowers her emotions and in the end leads to her decline. In William
Shakespeares The Tragedy of Macbeth, Shakespeare incorporates the theme of power to
juxtapose Macbeths and Lady Macbeths ambitions; Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeths
masculinity to motivate his ambition to usurp the throne, but her guilt and his obsession
ironically lead to their downfalls.
Macbeth, representing obsession with power, and Lady Macbeth, representing guilt, both
desire the throne and try everything possible to achieve this ambition. Shakespeare uses
characterization to juxtapose Lady Macbeth and Macbeths relationship when Lady Macbeth
wishes to transform into a strong and powerful man, because Macbeth appears weak and

incapable of killing King Duncan. Lady Macbeth claims, unsex me here, / And fill me from the
crown to the toe topful / Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood (1.5.48-50). As a bold and
intelligent women, Lady Macbeth knows that Macbeth needs her guidance to kill the king.
Shakespeare creates a symbol of thick blood to juxtapose Macbeth coming across as uncertain
and Lady Macbeth appearing malicious and daring. Shakespeare establishes diction, allowing
Lady Macbeth to vent her frustration about having to become the power behind Macbeth. Lady
Macbeth realizes Macbeths lack of strength and masculinity to harm King Duncan. Lady
Macbeth mocks her husband in hopes of him growing stronger when she says, Which thou
esteem'st the ornament of life, / And live a coward in thine own esteem (1.7.46-47). Lady
Macbeth plays with her husbands emotions by claiming he lacks the courage to kill King
Duncan. Lady Macbeths change in tone causes Macbeth to become irritated that his wife mocks
him, ultimately revealing characterization between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth when Macbeth
grows motivated to prove himself to his wife. Macbeth becomes angered that his wife fails to
believe his abilities. Macbeth defends himself and states, I dare do all that may become a man
(1.7.51). Macbeth asserts his power by promising to kill King Duncan. The theme of power
appears when Macbeth feel obligated to prove his masculinity to his wife. Macbeths obsession
with power allows him to pursue things that he ordinarily avoids.
Lady Macbeth and Macbeth use each others weaknesses to push themselves to their
ultimate goal of power, ultimately causing more guilt. Lady Macbeth reveals Macbeths absence
of evil and questions his masculinity to alter his mindset. Lady Macbeth claims that Macbeth
remains too nice and innocent, Yet do I fear thy nature (1.5.16). Lady Macbeth creates
characterization for Macbeth about lacking the courage and personality to murder. Lady Macbeth
says these things to motivate Macbeth to kill King Duncan. Shakespeare emphasizes how they

benefit from each others hidden encouragement. Macbeth refuses to return the daggers after
killing King Duncan and the guards, because of his great fear and paranoia. Macbeth lacked the
fortitude to follow through the steps and Lady Macbeth grows frustrated by his weakness and
angrily says, Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead / are but as pictures (2.2.69). The
daggers symbolize Macbeths guilt and the wish for power. Lady Macbeth makes sure every part
of her plan goes through, and plans to finish Macbeths job for him. Her characteristics of
strength, control, and courage emerge when she claims that the dead people lack the ability to
harm anyone, in addition she proceeds to complete the task by planting the daggers in the hands
of the guards. Lady Macbeths guilt grows after plotting to kill King Duncan, and seeing that her
husband achieved their murder plan. Lady Macbeth angrily attempts to wash the blood off of her
hands while showing her aggravation by conveying, Out, damned spot, out, I say! One. Two. /
Why then, tis time to fo t. Hell is murky (5.1.37-38). The theme of guilt returns when Lady
Macbeths guilt becomes visible. Even though Macbeth killed King Duncan, she planned the
murder and planted the daggers on the guards. All of these things led to her developing guilt and
worries about others realizing the truth about the murder.
Thus, in Shakespeares The Tragedy of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth questions Macbeths
manhood to provoke him to achieve his goal to seize the throne, but his delusion and her shame
ironically causes their downfalls; furthermore, Shakespeare juxtaposes Macbeths and Lady
Macbeths ambitions by establishing the theme of power. Characterization for Lady Macbeth
appears when she developes anger after Macbeth allows her to become the power behind him.
She claims Macbeth lacks the courage of a man, and supports the theme of power by ultimately
motivating him to kill King Duncan and prove himself to his wife. Lady Macbeth shows her
strength by finishing the plan and returning the bloody daggers. She fail to escape her guilt or her

conscience and commits suicide, while Macbeths guilt grows visible and leads to his death. The
obsession of power for the throne causes Lady Macbeth and Macbeth to attempt anything to
achieve their goal, ultimately creating a collapse in control.