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Tony Leche
Mr. DiNota
English 10, E Block
November 9, 2015

Lady Macbeth Character Analysis


In the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Lady Macbeth is known as one of the
authors most famous and frightening female characters. Despite all her flaws and weaknesses
depicted throughout the play, Lady Macbeth is displayed as a woman with a sense of humanity.
Shakespeare does this by conveying Lady Macbeth as imperfect, followed by depicting the guilt
of her actions that leads to her death.
Throughout the play Macbeth, William Shakespeare displays Lady Macbeth as
imperfect to help convey that a heinous nature can still have goodness. When the reader first
encounters Lady Macbeth, she is already plotting Duncans murder, who is much more ambitious
than her husband. In Act I, Lady Macbeth begins to call upon the scheming spirits: Come, you
spirits/ That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,/ And fill me from the crown to the toe topfull/ Of direst cruelty (1.5.47-50). Shakespeares use of diction in this passage helps portray
Lady Macbeths atrocious nature. Lady Macbeth feels that her husband doesnt have enough
masculinity to follow through with the murder and she constantly taunts her husband throughout
the play. For this reason, she calls upon the spirits to unsex [her] here. This is Shakespeares
vivid method of declaring that she wishes that she werent a woman. Lady Macbeth believes that
her feminine instincts are an impediment to her and wishes to be able to kill Duncan herself
instead of Macbeth. To help convey Lady Macbeths cruel nature, Shakespeare depicts Lady

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Macbeths harshness towards her own husband. While plotting Duncans murder, Lady Macbeth
begins to question Macbeths manhood: Wouldst thou have that/ Which thou esteemst the
ornament of life/ And live like a coward in thine own esteem (1.7.45-47). Despite Lady
Macbeths loyalty for her husband, she is able to effectively manipulate her husband, overriding
all his doubts. In the passage, Lady Macbeth questions Macbeths manhood by naming him a
coward. By doing this, Macbeth feels the need to murder Duncan so that he can prove himself
to his wife. Shakespeares depiction of cruelty to Macbeth helps convey Lady Macbeths own
harsh and manipulative manner.
Despite Lady Macbeths heinous nature, Shakespeare uses the feeling of guilt to help
depict her sense of humanity. In Act 5, Lady Macbeth begins a slow slide into madness: What
will these hands neer be clean? (5.1.45). Near the end of the play, Lady Macbeth begins to
sleepwalk through the castle, desperately trying to wash away an imaginary blood stain. The
blood represents the sins and guilt of her actions and she wishes for her hands, or conscience, to
be cleaned. Once the guilt begins to form, she is unable to cope with it and becomes mad. This
guilt conveys the presence of her conscience, showing that she isnt inhumane and feels bad for
her actions. This guilt eventually leads to her own death, helping depict the extent of her guilt.
Shakespeares use of repentance conveys Lady Macbeths presence of humanity.
All in all, despite all her flaws, Lady Macbeth is displayed as a woman with a sense of
humanity. Shakespeare does this by displaying the lack of perfection in Lady Macbeth, followed
by the guilt of her action. Shakespeares depiction of Lady Macbeth helps convey that there can
be goodness in a heinous nature.