What are the differences in the reactions of Macbeth & Lady Macbeth after the murder of Duncan in the 'murder scene'?macbeth-emotional--lady macbeth-practical ,after the murder...explain...

What are the differences in the reactions of Macbeth & Lady Macbeth after the murder of Duncan in the 'murder scene'?

macbeth-emotional--lady macbeth-practical ,after the murder...explain through their speeches.

2 Answers | Add Yours

luannw's profile pic

luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

Macbeth is stunned and seemingly in shock after he has killed Duncan.  He tells his wife he heard voices.  Some of those voices were real - people talking in their sleep or saying their prayers before bed.  Some of those voices were not real, i.e., when he hears a voice say that Macbeth has murdered sleep and "Macbeth shall sleep no more".  Also, Macbeth comes out of Duncan's rooms holding the blood-covered daggers and with blood on his hands.  He tells Lady Macbeth that all this blood is a "sorry sight".  The plan was that he was supposed to put the bloody daggers on the sleeping guards to implicate them in the murder, but in his state of shock, he has forgotten.  When he and Lady Macbeth hear the knocking at the gate, he says he wishes that the knocking could waken Duncan.  This indicates that Macbeth wishes he could go back and undo the murder.  Lady Macbeth is much more together after Duncan's murder (but of course, she didn't have to actually do the deed!).  She tells Macbeth that it's foolish for him to say he sees the blood as a "sorry sight" because she's glad that Duncan is dead and he should be glad, too. Then she chastises Macbeth for forgetting to put the bloody daggers on the guards and takes the daggers herself.  After Lady Macbeth puts the daggers on the guards and gets blood on her hands, she again chastises Macbeth for his stunned state and tells him that a little water washes away the evidence and the deed.  This comes back to literally haunt her in Act 5.  Then when the knocking at the gate is heard, she takes control of the situation and tells Macbeth that he needs to get his nightgown on so that it appears they were both in bed asleep.  So, whereas Macbeth is appalled by his actions, Lady Macbeth is satisfied and in control.

kc4u's profile pic

kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

As Lady Macbeth anxiously waits for Macbeth to have done the 'deed' which she herself shrinks away from despite the stimulus of drink, she betrays her nervously sensitive temperament.

The 'deed' done, both Macbeth & Lady Macbeth feel the tension of mind the doing of it invariably brings on. Macbeth enters with a terrorised admission of the act:'I have done the deed'. As he asks his wife if she has heard 'a noise', Lady Macbeth refers to the owl's scream & the crickets' cry--the nocturnal sounds that so long frightened her. But Macbeth seems to have heard a voice, whether a real human voice, or an imagined voice of his own guilty conscience.

Looking on his bloody hands carrying the evidence of his crime, he resorts to self-pity:'This is a sorry sight'. Remorse & penitence tell on his countenance as much as his mode of recounting the strange experience:

"Ther's one did laugh in 's sleep, and one cried


That they did wake each other: I stood and heard


But they did say their prayers, and address'd them

Again to sleep".

While Malcolm & Donalbain could utter the name of God to go back to sleep, Macbeth could not say, 'Amen'; the name of God got choked in the throat of the killer. Macbeth's seemingly delirious ravings suggest his guilt-stricken, agonised mind, while Lady Macbeth ironically tries to console her husband:'These deeds must not be thought/After these ways; so it will make us mad'.

But Macbeth's tormented conscience ventilates itself in a language of frenzied remorse; he has murdered sleep in the form of the sleeping Duncan & so has heard a penal voice passing the verdict of sleeplessness on him:

" Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!

Macbeth does murder sleep'......."

Lady Macbeth, deficient in imagination, is unable to follow her husband; she tries to pacify him with some matter-of -fact advice which, nevertheless, smacks of irony:

" Go get some water

And wash this filthy witness from your hand".

She reprimands Macbeth, accuses him of harbouring childish fear. She herself goes to Duncan's chamber with the daggers to complete the conspiratorial process. But Macbeth, looking at his blood-stained 'hangman's hands' reaches the crescendo of his profound sense of guilt-stricken fear:

" What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes!

Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood

Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather

The multitudinous seas incarnadine,

Making the green one red".

As Lady Macbeth re-enters and sarcastically refers to her husband's submissiveness to fear, she again sounds ironic:'A little water clears us of this deed :/How easy is it then!'

Shakespeare thus shows the reactions of the murderer and his accomplice to the heinous act. The minds of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth serve as two mirrors reflecting the immediate outcome of the 'deed': Macbeth's 'horrible imaginings' as opposed to Lady Macbeth's studied and unimaginative determination.

We’ve answered 318,031 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question