Lady Macbeth is one of the most powerful and dominating female characters in Shakespeare’s tragedy – Macbeth. She is the wife of the Scottish general and the play’s protagonist, Macbeth. Throughout the course of the play, she manipulates her husband Macbeth. She spurs him to commit murder. Lady Macbeth is shown to the audience as a loyal wife who wants the best for his husband, but at the same time, she is portrayed as a malicious character from the very beginning of the play. Some critics consider her The fourth Wicth of the drama. To Goethe, she is “The Super Witch”.
The fact that three Weird Sisters’ predictions would not have become true without the supreme influence of Lady Macbeth.
There are the following traits in Lady Macbeth’s Character –
William Shakespeare the greatest dramatist of whole English Literature sketches the character of Lady Macbeth as an ambitious woman. She is as ambitious as her husband. The only difference between her ambition and that of her husband is that she is not ambitious for herself but for the sake of her husband. She wants him to wear the crown of Scotland. One of the critics named Mrs. Jameson says,
“It is particularly observable
that in Lady Macbeth’s
concentrated, strong nerved
ambition, the ruling passion
of her mind, there is
yet a touch of woman
she is ambitious less for
herself than for husband.”
In the first instance, she plans with her husband the murder of Duncan, in fact she takes the initiative in it. Thus Lady Macbeth is an ambitious woman.
Strength of will
Lady Macbeth excels even her husband in her strength of will, determination, and resourcefulness. Once the decision to murder king Duncan is taken, she knows no wavering or retreating back. No sense of morality, gratitude or compassion can deter her from striving to achieve her goal. This force of will made her bold, courageous irresistible, passionless cruel. She invokes the spiritual powers
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here
And fill me from the crown to the toe top full
of direst cruelty”
She invokes the spirits to make her blood thick and stop up all access and passage to pity and remorse, so that no powers may
“Shake my fell purpose;
nor keep pace between
The effect and it”
It is right to say, that without her murder of the king would have been impossible.
Lady Macbeth is highly resourceful at the same time. She is tactful and does not lose her mental equilibrium even in the most critical situation. She advises her husband to,
“look like the innocent
flower and be the
serpent under it”.
She is a woman of every practical wisdom:
“To beguile the time, look lie the time”
When Macbeth dreads his filthy hands she says:
“A little water clears up of this deed how easy is it the”
Her feminine Nature
Yet she is essentially a woman possessing the essential feminine nature. She can wholly discard her feminine weakness in spite of her devilish will and unwavering determination. Her feminine nature fully possesses her in the sleepwalking scene. Every scene of murder has gone deep into her mind and heart. She recalls the event and shader at its very thought –
“Yet who have thought the old man
To have had so much blood in him?”
Not Human Monster
Lady Macbeth is not quite inhuman. It is a mistake to call her the “fourth width” in Macbeth. She is not inhuman by nature. At one place she says:
“Here is the smell of blood still;
all the perfumes of Arabia will
not sweeten this little hand”
Thus, Lady Macbeth is one of the major characters of the play ‘Macbeth’. She is widely considered to be one of Shakespeare’s most memorable and fascinating female characters.