The play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare is about cruelty, greediness, and desire of undeserved power. Actually, the main characters, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are both representative of the abovementioned qualities. Relationships between Macbeth and his wife are complex and tangled; moreover, they are changing over the play progress. Their relations play important role in the play as they aim at setting necessary atmosphere, creating moods, attitudes and feelings. It is seen that their relations aren’t perfect, though they stay with each other till the end:
Macbeth: “We will proceed no further in this business: He hath honour'd me of late; and I have bought Golden opinions from all sorts of people, Which would be worn now in their newest gloss, Not cast aside so soon”. Lady Macbeth: “Was the hope drunk wherein you dress'd yourself? Hath it slept since? And wakes it now, to look so green and pale at what it did so freely? From this time; such I account thy love. Art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valor; Letting "I dare not" wait upon "I would," Like the poor cat i' the adage?” (Act I, scene II)
Apparent disagreement is seen in the family and it continues throughout the play. Lady Macbeth is horrifying in her ruthlessness and cruelty, whereas she calls her husband a coward when he decides not to kill Duncan stressing that his decision is final and shouldn’t be discussed any more. In contrast to Macbeth, his wife is decision and leads everything to the end. She always makes her mind and only then acts.
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Lady Macbeth is provided with the power of persuasion and we see that she is more powerful than her husband as she convinces Macbeth to kill Duncan and he agrees. So, relations of the couple are based mainly on Lady’s Macbeth will as she is natural leader, whereas he husband is simply executor. Macbeth is presented to listen to his wife in such a way admitting her leadership and intellectual superiority. Nevertheless, their relations are based also on the sense of openness and mutual trust. It is hardly believable that Lady Macbeth talks her husband into murdering a person and their relationships are worsening as the mood of love is replaced by hatred. Macbeth is timid and fearful failing to go on:
Macbeth: “I'll go no more: I am afraid to think what I have done; Look on't again I dare not.”
Lady Macbeth: “Infirm of purpose! Give me the daggers: the sleeping and the dead Are but as pictures: 'tis the eye of childhood that fears a painted devil. If he does bleed, I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal, for it must seem their guilt”. (Act II, scene II)
Nevertheless, their relations are on the peak only when Macbeth becomes a king and they are filled with joy and happiness. They are shown to free of guilt and full of love and desire of more power. They are happily discussing the number of guests from Scotland to be invited to the feast. Their relations are improving and now they are loving family rather than guilty murders. However, there are pure evil, despite they are wrapped up in a luxurious exterior.
Premeditated murder is the first step into darkness and Macbeth and his wife have taken in without stopping. As far as they are free of guilt, they are agreeable and happy together. They are both presentation of masculinity in the play. They think if they are happy, their evil would turn around and “nip them in the butt”. Only after Macbeth experiences a tale of woe, his attitude towards wife is changing. It is evil which comes back and haunts him. Then Lady Macbeth is visited by Banguo, the ghost, who creates the feeling of discomfort and urgency to act:
Macbeth: “Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that which might appall the devil?”
Lady Macbeth: “O proper stuff! This is the very painting of your fear: This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said, led you to Duncan. O, these flaws, and starts, - Impostors to true fear,--would well become A woman's story at a winter's fire, Authorized by her grandam. Shame itself! Why do you make such faces? When all's done, you look but on a stool”. (Act III, scene IV)
Lady Macbeth supports and defends her husband. When she sees that her husband is ready to reveal everything, she lies to honored guests protecting her secrets. She loves her husband and in her speech we see she is really downcast and uncomfortable, though she is still full of love. Together they are trying to fight against the sense of guilt, the rumors supporting and nourishing their love. There are shown as united and bonded couple and it may seem that evil is succeeding.
It is necessary to outline that relationships between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are directly affecting their actions, decisions and behavior. In other words, they are interconnected not only by family ties, but also common secrets. Their relations are the block of the whole play. When they are getting into detailed conversation, they always find mutual decision, though it is not a good one. Macbeth loves his wife and his life is mutual; they always try to please each other. Sometimes they relations are on the peak, though sometimes they meet the flat line. Macbeth is obsessed with greediness and Lady Macbeth is overfilled with desire to make her husband a king. So, their mutual support results in catastrophe for the country of Scotland.
In the end we see that Macbeth becomes obsessed with greediness more than his cruel and demon-infested wife. He even doesn’t talk to her making Lady Macbeth commit suicide. Even then the evil in Macbeth is flourishing and he simply doesn’t notice that his beloved woman has gone. Shakespeare shows that Macbeth is on his stairway to the hell collapsing the whole empire built by Duncan. Macbeth is left alone: soldiers and his trust companion abandon him. It seems that Macbeth should feel ashamed and guilty, though he is obsessed with evil. So, desire of power and money splits up their family relations. Evil and darkness appears to be more powerful than love and happiness.
Damrosch, David. Longman Anthology of World Literature. US: Longman, 2004.
Greenblatt, Stephen. Renaissance Self Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare. US: Chicago Press, 1984.
Shakespeare, William. Plays and Poems. London: Spring books, 1966.
Taylor, Edward. Literary Criticism of 17th Century England. London: Universe, 2000.
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