Thesis: Lady Macbeth stands her ground as a strong woman who is willing to do anything to get what she wants, but in the end her guilty conscience gets the best of her, leaving her with the wrong act of suicide.
In Act 1 Scene 5, Lady Macbeth discovers a letter from Macbeth that he we will soon be promoted as the Thane Of Cawdor and later reign as King. Since Duncan is still King, and is staying the night at Macbeth’s castle, Lady Macbeth confronts Macbeth on a plan to killing Duncan in his sleep. She states in Act 1 Scene 5 Lines 64-65, “Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t”. What she means is be a gentle person show no fear, emotion, or signs of murder. Although she is excited that the King is coming to stay, she hides that eagerness of her husband Macbeth becoming King. In the quote she is talking to Macbeth and telling him to do this also, she wants there to be no suspicion of them being the murders behind this death, hoping for this to be a perfect kill.
In Act 1 Scene 7, Macbeth is having seconds thoughts on killing Duncan and is a bit scared of the outcome. He is still wondering on whether or not to go through with the plan, but Lady Macbeth questions him and makes him want to change his mind. She says in Act 1 Scene 7 Lines 39-41, “Art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valor as thou art in desire?”. What she is asking him is, is he afraid to act the way he desires. She questions him on if he is afraid to do want he feels he needs to do, but she uses seduction to convince him to stick to the plan.
In the beginning of Act 2 Scene 2 Macbeth is on his way to killing Duncan while Lady Macbeth awaits for the conclusion of it being done. Within this Act and Scene, Lines 10-12 Lady Macbeth says “Th’ attempt, and not the deed, confounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers ready – he could not miss ’em”. What this means is Lady Macbeth is anxious and can’t wait for the murder to be done with. She is waiting and waiting and wants to know what’s taking Macbeth so long but, when she final hears the good news she is filled with relief. This indicates that Lady Macbeth is willing to do anything to get what she wants and stop at nothing to make sure that happens.
In the middle of Act 2 Scene 2 Macbeth is going crazy and starts to feels guilty about killing Duncan. He starts to regret it and wish it never happened but, Lady Macbeth says in Line 37 “These deeds must not be thought. After these ways; so, it will make us mad.” She tells Macbeth that thinking that way is wrong and if he continues on this path he’ll go insane. Lady Macbeth is now starting to take command and shows that she now has power.
In Act 3 Scene 2 Lady Macbeth starts to get worried and feels regret of what has been done, although she was the one telling Macbeth to man up and feel no guilt.
Macbeth starts to keep to himself and tells Lady Macbeth that he’s been thinking a lot and having nightmares about the night of the murder. Lady Macbeth states in Lines 12-13 “Things without all remedy should be without regard. What’s done is done.” What she means is what is done can’t be fixed so stop giving it a second thoughts. She wants Macbeth to stay focused with his role as King and stay on path with his power in command.
In Act 3 Scene 4 Macbeth is at the banquet dinner with all the other Lords. Before the dinner he sends out murders to go and kill Banquo but, during the dinner Macbeth starts to have illusions and see ghosts of Banquo. This makes him seem as if he’s crazy and talk out loud let the ghost is really there. Lady Macbeth watches as this happens and talks to the Lords and tries to play it off. As she shows the Lords out the door she says to Macbeth “You lack the reason of all sleep”, Line 142, she starts to give up and lose that willingful power. She’s telling Macbeth to go to bed because she knows he is tired, she also feels tired too. Tired of the lies and worries, and so she starts to die off and lose that empowering control.
In the beginning of Act 5 Scene 1 the doctor and gentlewoman are in the hall, and are talking about Lady Macbeth and her continuous sleepwalking. The gentlewoman says in Lines 28-29 “It is an accustomed action with her, to seem thus washing her hands”. What she means is that she’s been seeing Lady Macbeth do this a lot lately for many minutes at a time. What she doesn’t know is that what Lady Macbeth is doing, is replaying that moment in time where she was washing the blood from her hands from the murder of King Duncan. Lady Macbeth has let all this go to her head and this guilt she is holding in making her go insane and feeling she has done wrong.
In the middle Act 5 Scene 1 the doctor and gentlewoman are still discussing Lady Macbeth and her sleepwalking. They observe the things she says and does, and soon they find out that her and Macbeth were the masked murders behind this killing of Duncan. As Lady Macbeth is walking she says in Lines 50-51 “Here’s the smell of blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hands”. What she means is in her mind the smell of blood still lies on her hands, and nothing no perfume or cleaning can make it go away. Again she feels this guilt inside of her and its eating her alive.
At the end of Act 5 Scene 1 the doctor and gentlewoman are still listening and watching Lady Macbeth sleepwalk and soon are on their way to bed. Before they go off, the doctor says to the gentlewoman in Lines 58-60 “I have known those which have walked in their sleep who have died holily in their beds”. What he means is he doesn’t know vary much of this disease but those he’s known who have done it weren’t guilty of anything. Although, Lady Macbeth is spilling the beans about the murder in her sleep these truthful words warn the doctor and gentlewoman about what Lady Macbeth might do next.
In Act 5 Scene 8 the battle is on for the taking of thrown, now that everybody knows that Macbeth is the murder behind Duncan’s death. Before the battle beginning news is brought to Macbeth that Lady Macbeth is dead but, really shows no emotion of this terrible news. Macduff enters the castle and slays Macbeth leaving him with nothing. At the end of the battle Malcolm states in Lines 70-71 “Of this dead butcher and his friend like queen who, as ‘tis thought, by self and violent hands took off her life”. This indicates Lady Macbeth took her own life because of all the guilt tearing her apart.
In conclusion, Lady Macbeth has definitely changed throughout the play. At first she was excited and happy her husband was becoming King. She was also hoping to be satisfied with the murder of Duncan and felt that she had some say and power in the decisions made. As time moved on she started to feel guilty and less and less powerful while her husband was king. Then she started sleepwalking and having nightmares about the day of the murder. Finally the day or a few hours before the big battle Lady Macbeth took her own life because she good no longer take the guilty conscience in her head.