In Act 2: Scene 2 of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is presented as a more powerful character than Macbeth. She is fully focused on the task at hand and indifferent towards her husband.
In order to present Lady Macbeth as more powerful in her relationship with her husband, Shakespeare subverts the stereotype of women in the Jacobean era. When Macbeth was written, women were expected to be kind, loving and caring. They weren’t expected to do much other than key things such as giving birth and caring for children. However, in this scene and throughout Macbeth, Shakespeare negates the stereotypical Jacobean women in Lady Macbeth.
Shakespeare does this by using imperative language in Lady Macbeth’s speech. She orders her husband to do things by saying, ‘Go get some’, ‘They have to’, ‘Go carry them’ and ‘Give me’. A lot of her sentences begin with imperative language meaning that Macbeth either follows them or completely rebuts them. In order to preserve and protect his marriage with Lady Macbeth, Macbeth chooses to follow them. The fact that the woman is ordering the man around directly opposes the stereotypical power balance in a Jacobean relationship. The male character in a relationship is always expected to be the dominant character over the woman however, in Macbeth it is the opposite.
Furthermore, to present Lady Macbeth as indifferent towards her husband and unable to conceive empathy, Shakespeare has made Lady Macbeth fully focused on the task at hand; murdering anyone who threatens their position and covering up these murders. This is shown through her questioning of Macbeth’s execution of the murder, ‘Why did you bring these daggers from the place?’, she is questioning him as to why he has still got the daggers, this shows her indifference towards her husband and that her only focus is on the task. She then goes on to tell him what to do with the daggers, ‘Go carry them and smear the sleepy grooms with blood.’. At no point does she consider her husbands emotions or how he is doing after committing such a horrific and grievous act.
Lady Macbeth’s has an inability to conceive empathy because her desperate drive to accumulate power gets in the way. Her judgement is clouded completely by her hunger for power. Shakespeare reinforces this lack of empathy when she says ‘A foolish thought to say a sorry sight.’ She cannot comprehend the gravity of the murderous act they have committed; nor can she empathise with those that they have harmed and the emotional effect that has on many more people, even Macbeth. Through the word ‘foolish’ we can see that she can’t understand the gravity of what has just been done and the knock on effect that it has. She hasn’t taken the time to consider the emotional effect that the murder has had and clearly doesn’t care what effect of the harsh words will have on Macbeth. More?
At this stage, Macbeth is beginning to fully understand what he and his wife have done and is starting to feel guilty. On the other hand, Lady Macbeth isn’t able to comprehend or understand any of these feelings and is fully focused on the task of covering up the murder. This doesn’t mean that she won’t consider these things when she has completed the tasks but her judgement is so clouded by her hunger for her power that she hasn’t considered the effect of the murder. READ OVER AND SEE IF IMPROVED UPON FEEDBACK. This is clearly shown when she says ‘Consider it not so deeply.’, she is asking Macbeth to join her in focusing on covering up the murder and this conclusively proves that she cannot comprehend the gravity of what has been done.
Shakespeare’s use of sharing the iambic pentameter between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth shows Lady Macbeth’s control over Macbeth. By interrupting the iambic pentameter, Shakespeare adds a sense of urgency to the scene. Also, because Macbeth’s lines are interrupted, it causes Lady Macbeth to seem more powerful. It has this effect because the characters in Shakespeare’s plays speak with this iambic pentameter. The iambic pentameter is a form of rhythm which is expected to be resolved at the end of each line. Lady Macbeth’s interruption of Macbeth’s iambic pentameter causes her to seem dismissive, uncaring and indifferent towards her husband.
Shakespeare demonises Lady Macbeth because he doesn’t want the audience to empathise nor sympathise with her. As a result of, demonising Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare causes the audience to closely pick up on her manipulation of Macbeth. This may lad some audience members to empathise with or feel sorry for Macbeth. This increases the chance that the audience will want Macbeth to triumph in some way and will want Lady Macbeth to be defeated. This has been done to increase the gravity of the discovery that we make later in the play that Lady Macbeth was in fact deeply distressed by the murderous acts; so much so, that she was reliving the events whilst sleepwalking. I don’t really understand how it impacts on the scene with Lady Macbeth sleepwalking.
If we could have a quick discussion about the things in bold that would be great and I could then do a quick final draft. It would be done on Monday, at either lunch time or as soon as I get home. Sorry for the delay, I’m still slightly concerned about some of those areas I highlighted.