Lady Macbeth: a woman before her time

sweetmartina

During the Elizabethan era, the great chain of being reigned. Women were low on this chain of power, and men were on top. In fact, women were below horses; you couldn?t live without a good horse, but, you could live without a wife. Lady Macbeth was a woman before her time, she was caught between being today?s ambitious, powerful modern woman and a fragile creature of the Elizabethan era.

In the first four acts of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is vicious, overly ambitious, without conscience, and willing to do whatever it takes to get what she wants. In this case, she wants to become Queen of Scotland. "Whiles I stood rapt in the/ wonder of it, came missives from the king, who all-/ hailed me, ?Thane of Cawdor?; by which title, before,/ these weird sisters saluted me, and referred me to the/ coming on of time, with ?Hail, King that shalt be!?/ This have I thought good to deliver thee, my dearest/ partner of greatness; that thou mightest not lose the/ dues of rejoicing, by being ignorant of what greatness/ is promised thee. " (I v, 5-13).

Because Lady Macbeth is a woman, she does not have the strength in her female frame, either in heart, body nor mind to carry out the deed of killing the King. Therefore, she calls upon the aid of the supernatural to give her male powers, so that she may have the gall to go through with the plan to murder the King, and allow Macbeth to obtain the throne. "The raven himself is hoarse/ That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan/ Under my battlements. 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! Make thick my blood,/ Stop up the access and passage to remorse,/ That no compunctious visitings of nature/ Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between/ The effect and it! Come to my woman?s breasts,/ And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,/ Wherever in your sightless substances/ You wait on natures?s mischief! Come thick night,/ and pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,/ That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,/ Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,/ To cry ?Hold, hold!?" (I v, 41-57)

"Man: a human male, or human kind. Women have always been considered as the gentler and fair sex. Lady Macbeth feels that to commit this crime, she must become as cruel as she believes men are. She calls for the spirits to unsex her, so she may act as a man would (The Rise and Fall of Lady Macbeth).

The killing of Duncan was enough for Lady Macbeth, she saw it as a necessary action in order to obtain the throne ("might over right"). Macbeth continued on a killing rampage, irradicating all perceivable enemies. "Suddenly, Lady Macbeth begins to have pangs of guilt, such as in the famous scene where she attempts to wash her hands of blood. She begins to have frequent bouts of sleeptalking and sleepwalking, where the terror of her conscience expresses itself." (SparkNotes, list of characters: Lady Macbeth).

"Her control over Macbeth has waned, and over herself, her control is dwindling as each second passes. The fire she once had, which drove Macbeth forward is now no more than a minute spark. She is beginning to lose that controlling stiffness. She asks Macbeth, ?what?s to be done" (III ii, 44), which is a drastic change in control." (Lady Macbeth- Character Changes Throughout the Play).

Lady Macbeth?s seemingly male actions are replaced at this point in the play and she is wrought by guilt. She suffers from a mental and emotional breakdown as a result of this guilt. She is emotionally exhausted and becomes the typical "fragile flower".

We first see this side of her when she states that she cannot kill Duncan because "had he not resembled/ My father as he slept, I had done?t" (II ii, 16-7). After Duncan?s murder, the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are reversed, previously, she was the main motivator in the plan to overthrow the kingdom. Following Duncan?s death, she breaks down and Macbeth becomes powerful and tyranical. Macbeth gets all the inclination and she gets the guilt. "The germs of fear which break out in Macbeth on the night of the murder