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COMPARE AND CONTRAST MACBETH AND LADY MACBETH BOTH PRIOR TO THE MURDER OF DUNCAN AND AFTERWARD.


Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are basically good people who make an ill judgement. It is unfair for Malcolm to describe them as this dead butcher and his fiend - like queen. In the beginning they are respected people who share a loving relationship. Their downfall is caused by their ambition for Macbeth to be great, sparked by the witches prophecy, and not because they are evil. Macbeths indecision on whether or not to kill Duncan, and Lady Macbeths begging of the spirits to take away her feminine qualities, show that ruthlessness does not come easily to them.


Lady Macbeth is a loyal wife with ambitions for her husband. She believes that Macbeth deserves to be King, but thinks that he is too nice to do anything about it. She does not think that he could kill Duncan on his own. She is supportive of Macbeth, and is willing to do what she can to help him get what he wants. She is basically a caring and loving person, though, so she pleads with the Spirits to take away her tenderness and femininity and make her ruthless Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me, from the crown to the toe, top full of direst cruelty. This evidence on Macbeth and Lady Macbeth proves that, at the beginning of the play, they are both good, virtuous people.


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When the witches predict that he shall be king, Macbeth does not think that he should do anything about making the prophecy come true If Chance will have me king, why Chance may crown me without my stir. However, when King Duncan places an extra obstacle in his way by naming his son, Malcolm, as his successor, Macbeth realises that, if he is to be king, then he must kill Duncan The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I must fall down, or else oerleap. For in my way it lies. Stars hide your fires, let not light see my black and deep desires.


When Lady Macbeth reads in her husbands letter of the witches prediction, she, too, realises that Duncan must be killed for it to come true. She thinks that Macbeth deserves to be great, and should murder Duncan so that this can be so, but she believes that he is too noble and honest to do something so immoral Yet do I fear thy nature It is too full othe milk of human-kindness to catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great Art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it.


Although Macbeth wants to be king, he does not wish to kill Duncan, and he thinks aloud to himself of his reasons First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, strong both against the deed; then, as his host, who should against his murderer shut the door, not bear the knife myself. Macbeth does not want to kill Duncan because he is his king and close relation, and because it is his duty as host to protect him. This shows that he is not evil. If he were, his kinship and duty to the king would offer no hindrance to his decision to murder him.


Lady Macbeth knows that Macbeths conscience and indecision will hinder his ambitions. It is because of this that she resolves to use brave, scolding and punishing words to drive away his doubts, and to encourage him to commit the deed that will obtain him the crown Hie thee hither, that I may pour my spirits in thine ear, and chastise with the valour of my tongue all that impedes thee from the golden round.


Although Lady Macbeth is supportive of her husband, and tries to persuade him to murder Duncan, she does not force him to do it. Macbeth decides to kill Duncan on his own, with his tragic flaw, ambition, as the main influence of his decision. For Macbeth to be a tragedy, as Shakespeare intended it to be, no one must force him to make the decision that ultimately brings him down. He must make the decision, based on his tragic flaw, on his own.


After murdering Duncan, Macbeth is agitated and frightened. He forgets to place the daggers near Duncans guards as he planned to, and is too afraid to go near the place of murder to correct the mistake Ill go no more. I am afraid to think what I have done; Look ont again I dare not. Macbeth wishes to wash his hands of Duncans blood, and thus the deed, but believes that no amount of water could remove all the blood Will all great Neptunes ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, He regrets killing Duncan, wishing that he would wake from his sleep of death Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!


Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, is calm and logical immediately after the murder. She does not appear to be at all worried about being caught, believing that, by cleaning their hands of blood, they are cleaning their hands of the deed A little water clears us of this deed. The wine she has drunk has made her brave, and she fixes Macbeths mistake by placing the bloodied daggers near the guards so that they are blamed for the murder. It seems as though the murder has had no effect on Lady Macbeth until she sees Duncans body, when the realisation of what they have done hits her and causes her to faint. This shows that the wine she had drunk and the fact that she had not yet seen what they had done caused her visage of carelessness. It is because of these actions by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth that we see that they are good people who would not usually commit such a crime.


Soon after the murder of Duncan, Macbeth and Lady Macbeths relationship begins to change. During the planning of the murder, Lady Macbeth is in charge, instructing her husband on what to do. After hiring the murderers to kill Banquo and Fleance, Macbeth tells his wife to Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, till thou applaud the deed. showing that he is beginning to take control, plotting on his own and not even telling his wife what he is planning to do.


Where, before he was king, Macbeth was acting according to his ambition, by the beginning of Act III he is fighting for survival. He realises that he has come too far and killed too many people to turn back I am in blood stepped in so far, that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go oer.


He has come to distrust everybody, especially Macduff, even to the point of hiring spies, and intend to kill any who get in his way Theres not a one of them, but in his house I keep a servant feed ... For mine own good all causes shall give way. Macbeth is worried about the consequences of his actions. He is afraid that nature will somehow find away to avenge the murders that he has committed It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood. Macbeth soon realises that, if the witches told the truth, then all that he fought for will go to Banquos sons instead of his own For Banquos issue have I filed my mind, for them the gracious Duncan have I murdered, put rancour in the vessel of my peace, only for them. This realisation frustrates Macbeth, and makes him even more determined to survive. Macduff leaving the country before he has a chance to kill him also frustrates him. If he is evil in this play at all, it is now, when he takes out these frustrations by having Macduffs family killed. Macbeth is no longer killing for entirely selfish reasons. He is now like a soldier, killing for survival and what he has fought for.


The last time that we see Lady Macbeth in command is at the banquet in Act III. In this scene, Lady Macbeth tries to protect and cover up for Macbeth by excusing his behaviour as a fit when Banquo’s ghost appears to him and he addresses it in terror. The next time we see her is in the beginning of the last Act, and she is far from the confident, calm person that we see in Act I. She has begun sleepwalking, and is obviously tormented by the murders that she has had part in. Earlier, she thought that a little water was all that was needed to wash her hands of Duncans blood, but, while sleepwalking, she thinks that her hands are covered in blood that cannot be removed Yet heres a spot…Out, damned spot! Out, I say! What, will these hands neer be clean? Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. By her behaviour, we see that Lady Macbeth is paying the penalty for the mistakes she helped to make. She was just trying to be a good wife by helping her husband receive what she believed he deserved. Her suffering is such that it leads to suicide, which shows that Lady Macbeth is not at all fiend-like. If she were, then the murders would have had no effect on her.


It is clear by their behaviour that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are not evil. Lady Macbeths obvious suffering and regret, shown by her sleepwalking and suicide, and Macbeths fighting to his death, like the fearless soldier in the first Act, prove that Malcolms describing them as this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen is unfair and inaccurate.








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