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Character Sketch of Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth, the Clytemnestra of English tragedy is naturally drawn as a foil t


o Macbeth.She possesses a frightfully determined will and an iron stability of res
olve. It is to Lady Macbeth what imagination is to Macbeth the feature that tran
scends and dominates all other in the character. It is the secret of her influen
ce over Macbeth and of her success in winning him to consent.
But, it proves her ruin. It makes Lady Macbeth impose upon herself and bear, for
a time, a strain beyond the ultimate endurance of the rest of her powers. In fa
ct, her imperious will, like Macbeth s excess of imaginative faculty, disturbs the
proper relation of the forces of the character.
Lady Macbeth s character has extreme self reliance, unlike Macbeth who turns to he
r for co-operation, until his menancing sense of retribution substitutes its fat
al stimulus. Intellectually too, Lady Macbeth is superior of Macbeth just as Por
tia is of Bassanio and Rosalind of Orlanto. The dexterity with which she meets M
acbeth s reluctance to go further in the work, the swiftness with which she percei
ves the effect of the deed on Macbeth and the resource and alertness of brain La
dy Macbeth manifests at the banquet scene, all are but commendable.
But intellectual keenness does not compensate the lack of imagination. Gifted wi
th true imaginative insight, Lady Macbeth could never have made her appaling mis
calculation as to the moral results her crime would produce in Macbetdh and in h
erself.
Of conscience, she certainly manifests less than Macbeth. It has been held that
even the dire sleepwalking scene doesnot justify us with crediting her with true
remorse for : from her lips, as from her husbands, no word of contrition for the
past ever falls .
However, judging more by what we see rather than what we hear, the wrecked body
and soul does highlight some working of the conscience as a potent cause in the
character of Lady Macbeth.
The three main reason of Lady Macbeth s delirium in the sleepwalking scene can be
characterised to mere reproductions of the scenes of that horrible night; contin
uous struggle of Lady Macbeth to keep her husband from betraying himself and the
uprising of her femine nature against the foulness of the deed.
Illuminating the brighter side of the character of Lady Macbeth we find in her c
haracter true devotion to her husband. Variety remarks, she lives only in him (Ma
cbeth) and his greatness . It is notable that even after Macbeth s breakdown in the
banquet scene, Lady Macbeth utters no word of reproach but simply remarks : You
lack the season of all natures, sleep . Lady Macbeth s very initial solioluqy reveal
s her indepth understanding of her husband s nature.
Lady Macbeth s invocation of the powers of darkness proves that she is no stranger
to gentler impulses of womanhood, for a Goneril would not need to pray that she
might be unsexed or a Regan to petition for a richer measure of direst cruelity .
To quote Bradley, Lady Macbeth is perhaps the most awe- inspiring figure that Sha
kespeare ever drew. Sharing certain traits with her husband, she is at once clea
rly distinguised from him by an inflexibility of will, which appears to hold ima
gination, feeling and conscience completely in check.
Thus, Shakespeare s Lady Macbeth is a misguided and misguiding wife who for the fu
lfillment of her husband s desires prays to be nerved by unnatural access to feroc
ity but ultimately suffers a crash of finer spirit due to nemesis.