A few ideas as to how Lady Macbeth is presented:
– More powerful in her relationship with Macbeth, possibly dominating.
– Uninterested in sentiment and her husband.
– Fully focused on the task at hand.
– Emotionally unstable, possibly mad.
– Unable to conceive empathy.
– Opposing the stereotype of women in the Jacobean era. Woman were expected to be kind, caring, loving and not much else. They were almost only there for functional purposes from what it seems. However, in this scene and throughout Macbeth, Shakespeare negates the stereotypical woman in Lady Macbeth. She is the opposite of what is expected of woman in many ways; she holds more power in her relationship with Macbeth, she is manipulative of a man, she does not consider her husband, she does not actively show any form of empathy and isn’t stable. All of these things oppose the stereotypical Jacobean woman. Furthermore, this may have even provoked audience members to consider her a witch because opposing the stereotypical woman and holding power was considered witchcraft under the reign of King James I.
– Interrupting the iambic pentameter or sharing the iambic pentameter. This adds a feeling of urgency to the scene but also places Lady Macbeth as uncaring for her husband and more powerful than her husband. This happens because the characters in Shakespeare’s plays speak their lines with an iambic pentameter, a rhythm. This rhythm is expected to be resolved or finished at the end of each characters line unless the line is a form of exclamation or a one word answer. In this scene, the iambic pentameter is often interrupted when Macbeth is talking which portrays Lady Macbeth as dismissive, uncaring, and indifferent towards her husband.
– Shakespeare does this because he doesn’t want the audience to empathize with Lady Macbeth, he wants them to dislike her character. By villainizing Lady Macbeth, audience members will begin to closely pick up on her manipulating of Macbeth. This leads some audience members to empathize with, identify with or feel sorry for Macbeth. This increases the chances that the audience will want Macbeth to triumph in some way and will want Lady Macbeth to be defeated. As I don’t know the end of the play I would expect that this is being done for some further effect on the conclusion or further key moments in the play.
Some quotes to support my arguments:
‘A foolish thought to say a sorry sight.’ This quote breaks the iambic pentameter in Macbeth’s speech and also is dismissive of Macbeth (opposing the stereotype).
‘Consider it not so deeply.’ “”
‘Infirm of purpose!’ Opposing stereotype.
‘Go get some’ ‘They have to stay there.’ ‘Go carry them’ ‘Give me’. All use imperative language and oppose the power balance stereotype in a Jacobean relationship.
‘Why did you bring these daggers from the place?’ Indifferent to her husband and fully focused on the task at hand.