In Scene 7 (Act 1), Macbeth is on the verge of giving up his plan to murder Duncan. How does Lady Macbeth encourage him?Act 1, Scene 7

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I'm not sure "encourage" is the word I would use to describe what Lady Macbeth does to her husband in Act 1.7 of Shakespeare's Macbeth.  Manipulate, humiliate, and badger are more appropriate words. 

She, in effect, says that he looks green and pale since he's lost his hope.  She says she will consider his love for her to be just like his lack of determination and courage (again, I'm interpreting and paraphrasing) when it comes to following through with the assassination plans.  In other words, his love is worthless.  He's afraid to let his actions match his desires.  He's a coward. 

When he protests that he is a man, she argues that if he is a man now (when he's behaving cowardly) then what was he before when he raised the idea of assassinating Duncan, a beast?  Powerfully, she proclaims that she has breast fed an infant, but if she broke a promise as Macbeth wants to do, she would pluck the child from her breast and dash the child's brains out.

In short, she berates Macbeth, plays the "macho card," so to speak.  She questions his manhood and his courage. 

And she manipulates him, as well.  Like actual human beings do much of the time, she remembers what she wants to remember, or if not, she rearranges the past to fit her purposes:  she refers to Macbeth's having "sworn" to assassinate Duncan.  He actually does nothing of the kind.  His strongest verbal commitment to the assassination plan is a "We will speak further" (Act 1.5.71).  She manipulates reality or the remembered details in order to win the argument and get what she wants.

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