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In Macbeth, what does Lady Macbeth's soliloquy given below mean and suggest about her...

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macbeth9 | Student, Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted June 27, 2012 at 1:02 PM via web

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In Macbeth, what does Lady Macbeth's soliloquy given below mean and suggest about her psychological state?

Come thick night,
and pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry 'Hold hold!' (I.v.400-404)

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lsilien | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted June 27, 2012 at 1:50 PM (Answer #1)

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Lady Macbeth is at the point where she is willing to do anything to get anything to get what she wants.  She is asking the "thick night" to come and cover her evil actions.  In the second line, I think you mean " and pall THEE in the dunnest smoke of hell"---she is asking the darkest (dunnest) smoke from hell cover her actions like a "pall" (a shroud used for dead bodies).  The knife she is going to use to kill---she doesn't even want that knife to see what it is doing.  She wants such a dark cover, because she does not want Heaven or God to say, "Hold" or stop.  She knows what she is doing is wrong, but she wants darkness to cover her actions so that she may get away with it.  This relates back to her earlier soliloquies asking Hell and evil spirits to come to her aid.  Her pyschological state---ruthless, knowing what is right and chosing to do the wrong this, immoral, desperate, ambitious to a fault.  She is calling down Hell to cover her actions--that speaks of a certain evil in her.  I wouldn't say she is psychotic, because she knows what she is doing is wrong and doesn't care.  Although later, her guilt literally kills her.

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nerdygirl-1996 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted June 28, 2012 at 7:48 AM (Answer #2)

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Lady Macbeth's first soliloquy in Act 1 Scene 5 portrays the dominant characteristics within her ruthless nature. Whilst Lady Macbeth is determined to achieve her goals she is not aware of the consequences of unchecked ambition.  The lines given above evince lady Macbeth as a strong and determined woman who appears unafraid of  darkness.  She calls on evil spirits to transform her into a murderer, this action is fuelled by her ambition. Lady Macbeth repeats the word "come" throughout the soliloquy to reflect the psychological purpose of this malevolent chant. Though lady Macbeth there is an obvious strain to this speech. The line "unsex me here" said previously in the soliloquy evinces this struggle.  Ambition, determination and bravery are chararcteristics stereotypically thought to be manifested in a male's character, yet Lady Macbeth is trying to exhibit them. A woman is stereotypically thought of as nuturing. This fight against gender roles portray lady macbeth as a dominating female character, who will do anything for  power.

This answer is based on my opinion from reading the play. I used no other sources, I hope it helps :)

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 27, 2012 at 1:29 PM (Answer #3)

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It could be said that Lady Macbeth is attempting to channel evil spirits to help her go through with what the witches' prophecy suggests. It could also be said that Lady Macbeth is literally attempting to alter her own psychological state by force of her own will. She may be asking spirits to "unsex" her (to make her more stereotypically masculine, more inclined to action, or to make her inhuman) but she does so willingly. There is a parallel here between her and Macbeth. Both seem to be asking for guidance and/or allow themselves to be manipulated by spirits and witches. But in the end, it is Macbeth and his wife that choose their fates, so as for her psychological state, it seems that she is attempting to alter it herself. By asking heaven not to interfere, and asking her knife to not know the wound it makes, she is asking her better conscience to yield to her dark side.

 

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nerdygirl-1996 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted June 28, 2012 at 7:55 AM (Answer #4)

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the above contributes to her psychological state. She is in a constant struggle against her stereotypical gender roles and is always fighting to be determined. 

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