For the purpose of this essay I will be looking at how Shaekspeare presents power as a person having influence and/or control over others. I will be looking at the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth paying particular regard to the power that Lady Macbeth holds over Macbeth.
Macbeth is a dark and powerful tragedy written by Shakepseare in 1606. It tells the story of a Scottish General who, following a prophesy form a trio of witches, goes beyond his own conscience to commit murder in to take the throne for himself.
The main theme is that of ambition and how in one’s quest for power it can become destructive. Although Macbeth is not naturally an evil person he does desire power and, driven by his wife, Lady Macbeth’s, own ambition, he goes beyond his own conscience and commits murder. The bloodbath that follows takes them both into the realm of madness and subsequent death.
We are first introduced to Lady Macbeth in Act 1, scene 5, where we see her reading Macbeth’s letter telling her of the prophesy. His love for his is clear as he wants her to be able to join him in this exciting news. ‘My dearest partner of greatness/that thou mightst not lose the dues of rejoicing by being/ignorant of what greatness is promised thee’. 1:5:10-12). She immediately puts he own interpretations on the letter and goes on to say that she feels Macbeth may be too weak to carry out the deed that needs to be done, ‘yet do I fear thy nature/It is too full o’th’milk of human kindness.’ (1:5:15-16) She urges him to hurry home in order that she, ‘may pour my spirits in thine ear/And chastise with the valour of my tongue.’ (1:5:25-26). In other words she intends to pester and cajole him until he realises what needs to be done in order that he may become king.
When she hears that the King is on his way she calls to the spirits to ‘unsex’ her; she needs to lose her feminity to become the person strong enough to carry out such an evil act. Her powerful soliloquy asks the spirits to, ‘fill me from the crown to the toe topfull/Of the direst cruelty; make thick my blood/Stop up th’access and passage to remorse.’ (1:5:41-43). She ask that they take the nourishing milk from her breast and turn it to gall. In other words she wants to become less of a woman and take on the characteristics of a man so that she will have the strength and courage to commit such an evil act. We see her become the ‘instigator’ and hereby Macbeth becomes the ‘accessory’.
When Macbeth returns she greets him with seductive words to boost his ego, ‘Great Glamis, worthy Cawdor/ Greater than both by the all-hail hereafter.’ (1:54-55) She uses manipulative words as she wants him to feel good about himself before she goes on to talk of her plan.
With no words even being spoken Lady Macbeth immediately speaks of Duncan not seeing tomorrow. It is as if they know they are both thinking the same thing. She does, however, tell Macbeth that she fears he is unable to hide his emotions and that his face will give them away. She tells him that he must, ‘look like th’innocent flower/But be the serpent under’t.’ (1:5:64-65). She assures him that everything will be alright if he leaves everything to her.
In Act 1, scene 7, we see the soliloquy of Macbeth where his resolve is beginning to weaken. He speaks of Duncan entering their home in ‘double trust’. On the one hand he speaks of being Duncan’s kinsman and his subject, together in battle they have fought, then, on the other hand, he is to be duncan’s host and should be welcoming him into his home, not planning his murder.
He tells of Duncan’s virtues, how he is a great leader and much respected. Although Macbeth feels he may be able to deal the consequences of killing Duncan in the afterlife, he is not sure that he will be able to in this life. ‘We still have judgement here that we but teach/Bloody instructions,…