“Macbeth” By William Shakespeare is a play in which the relationship between a male and female character changes significantly. This essay will show how the relationship between the two characters changes and to what extent this illuminates a central ideas of the play which are power and ambition.
“Macbeth” is about a loyal kinsman to the king of Scotland allowing his ‘vaulting ambition’ to get the better of him. He plans with his wife who turns out to be the driving force, to commit regicide to gain the power and title of King of Scotland. They succeed and the power goes to Macbeth’s head. He becomes a tyrant, which disturbs the peace in Scotland. Innocent people are being executed on his command, Macbeth and his wife’s relationship starts strong but ends up falling apart. They suffer a metaphorical divorce- they aren’t seen on stage together again. This descends into a downward spiral which results in Lady Macbeth committing suicide, it also effectively contributes to Macbeth’s eventual execution.
The relationship between Macbeth and his wife changes from a strong union to a broken partnership by the second half of the drama. She was his accomplice in murder, his spur and confidante in the first half of the play, but as the play progresses and the act is completed, he becomes distant and paranoid, putting less trust in his spouse. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s ‘vaulting ambition’ is responsible for their demise.
Macbeth sends his wife a letter prior to the kings visit to his castle alerting her of what has been happening and his plans, he does this knowing that if his conscience begins to get the better of him she will manage to provide a spur and rally him, this is a sign of how strong a union Macbeth and his wife had, Lady Macbeths reaction to the letter shows her strength, she openly says she wants to be stripped of her femininity to carry out this act
Unsex me here and fill me from the crown to the toe topfull of dirtiest cruelty.
Lady Macbeth has the power to convince her husband to do things even when he is doubting, this is yet again, an example of the strong union. When Macbeth begins to have doubts over the act of regicide the audience see a glimmer of hope and feel that Macbeth may stray away from this horrible act
We will proceed no further in this business
Lady Macbeth then provides her spur as expected and we fear for Macbeth’s character and his soul, she says that if she promised to carry out an act she would do it, this is her trying to convince Macbeth not to change his mind;
‘I would while it was smiling in my face, have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums and dash’d the brains out, had I sworn as you have done to this’
Macbeth show’s weakness and he gives in almost instantaneously
If we should fail?
The couples mutual understanding of each other is destructive, Macbeth knows that he can be ‘too full of the milk of human kindness’ as does lady Macbeth so he cleverly sends the letter knowing his wife being just as ambitious if not more than him will rally him and make sure he pursues the task.
Her power to rally Macbeth is very prominent and is a key factor after the murder of Duncan, she takes charge on a practical level whilst at the same time controlling Macbeth’s mental state. This act has also been struggled with by her, she had to turn to alcohol for courage. When Macbeth comes back horrified with his act then Lady Macbeth takes charge.
They both again show their ability to maintain a false face upon the arrival of Macduff and…