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Can Macbeth be called a play on conjugal life?Macbeth is famous tragedy based on...

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drrb | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted February 18, 2010 at 6:03 PM via web

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Can Macbeth be called a play on conjugal life?

Macbeth is famous tragedy based on Scottish history.Shakespeare borrowed profusely from Ralph Holinshed's Chronicle. But as in Antonio and Cleopatra or Romeo and Juliet , in Macbeth Shakespeare did not entitle the play Macbeth and Lady Macbeth although we cannot fully ignore the presence of Lady Macbeth in Macbeth's life. She has instigated Macbeth in committing the murder of Duncan. Whatever responsibility Macbeth carries , it is Lady Macbeth's initiative that made the murder possible. Macbeth committed the murder for making her dearest partner happy. But after the murder of Duncan , Macbeth did not consult his wife any more regarding the murder of Banquo or Macduff's son  and wife. The conjugal life of Macbeth is under the shadow of separation. The husband or wife acted in his or her individual way.

After the death of Lady Macbeth , Macbeth became more lonelyand  insecure as a husband usually feels after a divorce suit is settled. Macbeth felt that life is  like a shadow, a mere insubstantial thing , full of sound of fury signifying nothing. Kingship is not a problem. Macbeth remains a king even after the death of Lady Macbeth. It is the absence of his ever-dominating wife that makes the husband most lonely. Her presence was equally important when she was his friend , philosopher and guide as a good wife is always to her husband.The play should be entitled Macbeth and Lady Macbeth for this stress on conjugal life.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted February 18, 2010 at 6:16 PM (Answer #2)

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Shakespeare's Macbeth is not a play about conjugal life.  It plays a part, yes, but it certainly is not central.  Shakespeare plays around with role reversals among Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, and both are ambitious, both equivocate, both are evil, both feel guilt, etc.  Their relationship serves to reflect and enhance the themes, the tragic flaw, whatever.  But it is not primarily a conjugal study. 

I don't know what a "good wife" is or how one can categorize that and put a label on it, but I know that Lady Macbeth was never it.

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drrb | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted February 18, 2010 at 6:46 PM (Answer #3)

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Shakespeare's Macbeth is not a play about conjugal life.  It plays a part, yes, but it certainly is not central.  Shakespeare plays around with role reversals among Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, and both are ambitious, both equivocate, both are evil, both feel guilt, etc.  Their relationship serves to reflect and enhance the themes, the tragic flaw, whatever.  But it is not primarily a conjugal study. 

I don't know what a "good wife" is or how one can categorize that and put a label on it, but I know that Lady Macbeth was never it.

Shakespeare not only presents the picture of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth , but also that of Macduff and Lady Macduff.

I never wrote that the play is on conjugal life. It is my question if Macbeth can be read as a play on conjugal life since there are so many scenes related to husband-wife relationship .  Please read the portion where Lady Macduff speaks in absence of her husband.

You have written that you dont know what is good wife. So you dont properly understand the soft side of the picture in Macbeth. Good and evil , villainy - much have been spoken about all these.

Lastly I humbly disagree to agree that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are both evil and no other question is important.In fact this is the only play where history is softened with the bliss of domesticity.Read the portion where Duncan and Banquo describes the serenity of Inverness.

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nusratfarah | Valedictorian

Posted February 19, 2010 at 4:04 AM (Answer #4)

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Yes, to many extents, I personally consider it as a play dealing with conjugal life.

The scenes where Lady Macbeth seems to care about her husband as if he were a child (1.5), and the scene where Macbeth is shown much broken hearing the news of her death (5.5) ["Out, out, brief candle,/ Life is but a walking shadow"]- portray an affectionate relationship between the husband and the wife. Yes, and of course, Lady Macduff's witty conversation with her son also imply her loyal love towards her husband and son.

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epollock | Valedictorian

Posted February 20, 2010 at 11:12 PM (Answer #5)

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I think it has very little to do with conjugal life. It is a tragedy with themes of what happiness when people are lustful, and have a thirst for power. In the play that is over two hours long, I suppose its possible to find an instance of anything, but one of my professors said so famously, "If it is about everything, then it's about nothing."

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted February 21, 2010 at 12:04 PM (Answer #6)

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The only connection to conjugal life that I see in Macbeth is that he and Lady Macbeth are married. Otherwise this play seems to be more about proving the point that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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booksnmore | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted February 22, 2010 at 2:12 PM (Answer #7)

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While I don't think it's the primary theme of the play, I definitely see it as dealing with conjugal life. I think it's fascinating to watch the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth unfold. Her manipulation--her control over him--certainly influences the outcome; the play wouldn't have been the same without that marriage relationsihp.

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kristenfusaro | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted August 18, 2010 at 7:28 PM (Answer #8)

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Can Macbeth be called a play on conjugal life?

Macbeth is famous tragedy based on Scottish history.Shakespeare borrowed profusely from Ralph Holinshed's Chronicle. But as in Antonio and Cleopatra or Romeo and Juliet , in Macbeth Shakespeare did not entitle the play Macbeth and Lady Macbeth although we cannot fully ignore the presence of Lady Macbeth in Macbeth's life. She has instigated Macbeth in committing the murder of Duncan. Whatever responsibility Macbeth carries , it is Lady Macbeth's initiative that made the murder possible. Macbeth committed the murder for making her dearest partner happy. But after the murder of Duncan , Macbeth did not consult his wife any more regarding the murder of Banquo or Macduff's son  and wife. The conjugal life of Macbeth is under the shadow of separation. The husband or wife acted in his or her individual way.

After the death of Lady Macbeth , Macbeth became more lonelyand  insecure as a husband usually feels after a divorce suit is settled. Macbeth felt that life is  like a shadow, a mere insubstantial thing , full of sound of fury signifying nothing. Kingship is not a problem. Macbeth remains a king even after the death of Lady Macbeth. It is the absence of his ever-dominating wife that makes the husband most lonely. Her presence was equally important when she was his friend , philosopher and guide as a good wife is always to her husband.The play should be entitled Macbeth and Lady Macbeth for this stress on conjugal life.

While much of the play takes place around the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, to label it about conjugal life would be undercutting the major theme regarding the association of masculinity and cruelty.

Surely Macbeth's famous "Tomorrow" soliloquy trivializes life and its value, it is emphasizing how cruel Macbeth has become as he has become more masculine and killed more people. Towards the end of the play, Lady Macbeth's role becomes less and less vital to the movement of the plot because Macbeth has become so wrapped up in the second prophecies and who else he needs to murder in order to protect his throne. His lament about life being worthless is not because he is depressed after losing his wife, but instead just the opposite, more of a c'est la vie attitude.

Their relationship is strong at the beginning of the play, and Lady Macbeth's role is certainly more dominant, but that, in essence, is part of Macbeth's character development, as he is too feminine to commit murder in Act 1. Her role is to contrast Macbeth's dynamic character development, while also demonstrating that women cannot escape from their true feminine nature.

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