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In Act 1, Scene 7, how does Lady Macbeth respond to Macbeth's decision and how does she...

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bedroll | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 21, 2009 at 11:39 AM via web

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In Act 1, Scene 7, how does Lady Macbeth respond to Macbeth's decision and how does she manipulate him?

Macbeth's decision is to not murder Duncan.

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robertwilliam | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted February 21, 2009 at 10:37 PM (Answer #1)

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Macbeth, as you rightly point out, has decided not to go ahead with the murder: he will, he says "go no further" in the business. Lady Macbeth is clearly frightened by this refusal to do the murder. And she immediately, without hesitation, attacks him as a coward:

Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valor
As thou art in desire?

Is he scared ("afeard"), she asks, to act and to do the things he desires to do? For a professional soldier, famed for his bravery, it must be a difficult thing to hear. But it doesn't work. She tries again:

When you durst do it, then you were a man,
And, to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man.

Macbeth is no longer a man, she says. And then, trying to tempt him, she says that to be king ("more than what you were") would be to be much more of a man. But that doesn't work either. So she resorts to her big tactic:

I have given suck, and know
How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me:
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 so sworn as you
Have done to this.

Macduff later tells us that Macbeth has no children. Yet Lady M has known what it's like to love your baby. But, she says, rather than break her promise, she'd have killed her own baby. And that changes Macbeth's mind. "If we should fail?" he says, back on board. Why? Why is this dead baby so emotional? Shakespeare never says. But it does the trick.

 

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troutmiller | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted February 21, 2009 at 9:50 PM (Answer #2)

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In the lines "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?" Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeth by challenging his manhood.  She can't believe this is the same man who wants it all--and ultimately to be king. She turns it around and asks him if it was HE who came to HER with the idea to kill Duncan in the first place.

Then she says, "How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me: 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 so sworn as you
Have done to this."

She says here that she would kill her own baby lying in her arms if he would ask her to.  She shows him how faithful she is to him and hints that she wants it in return.  All of these challenges manipulates Macbeth into doing the dreadful deed.

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vincentvangogh | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted October 18, 2012 at 1:02 AM (Answer #3)

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robertwilliam

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College - Sophomore

Editor, Debater, Expert, Dickens, The Bard

Macbeth, as you rightly point out, has decided not to go ahead with the murder: he will, he says "go no further" in the business. Lady Macbeth is clearly frightened by this refusal to do the murder. And she immediately, without hesitation, attacks him as a coward:

Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valor
As thou art in desire?

Is he scared ("afeard"), she asks, to act and to do the things he desires to do? For a professional soldier, famed for his bravery, it must be a difficult thing to hear. But it doesn't work. She tries again:

When you durst do it, then you were a man,
And, to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man.

Macbeth is no longer a man, she says. And then, trying to tempt him, she says that to be king ("more than what you were") would be to be much more of a man. But that doesn't work either. So she resorts to her big tactic:

I have given suck, and know
How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me:
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 so sworn as you
Have done to this.

Macduff later tells us that Macbeth has no children. Yet Lady M has known what it's like to love your baby. But, she says, rather than break her promise, she'd have killed her own baby. And that changes Macbeth's mind. "If we should fail?" he says, back on board. Why? Why is this dead baby so emotional? Shakespeare never says. But it does the trick.

 

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kmieciakp | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted February 22, 2009 at 3:25 PM (Answer #4)

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She doesn't manipulate him; he manipulates her. He confirms Duncan's murder in his soliloquy and then starts to plan Banquo's, even showing that hand later: "bring forth men-children only . . . ." For Macbeth's "If it were done when tis done . . ." means if I'm going to kill Banquo after Duncan, I'll need to do it right away. He notes that if Duncan's death could wrap up the corpse "trammel up the consequence," then no problem, but the death will be judged, and the judging, "that we but teach" will be based on lineage: "Bloody instruction," eating away atthe corpse'sfinder, "the inventor." Macbeth knows Judgment exists in "double trust," in Banquo, as "his kinsman" and in Duncan, as"his subject," and he worries Banquo's nature will tell about the witches' prophecy, feel "pity" "horsed upon the sightless courier's of the air." So Mac knows he has to hurry up and kill Banquo,so he has "to prick" his wife,"my intent"; he hasto be sureof her resolve to murder Duncan.He then worries that his "spur"--his tempting her with "vaulting ambition," make not hit the mark since it already "o'erleaps itself andfalls on the other," Banquo.

So he uses "vaulting,"and side-steps the plan with reverse psychology to test her resolve--that's why the infant sucking nipple-plucking brain-bashing vow moves him.  Her violent vow convinces him she's all in. Then he feeds her the smearing the guards with blood idea and hurries her off, reminding her to hide her false heart in her false face--as he's been doing from the start.

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