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What are Lady Macbeth's contradictory thoughts and feelings in Act 3 Scene 2?

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engelchen1989 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 1, 2009 at 2:00 AM via web

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What are Lady Macbeth's contradictory thoughts and feelings in Act 3 Scene 2?

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jseligmann | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted November 1, 2009 at 2:32 AM (Answer #1)

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As the scene begins, Lady Macbeth is depressed. She has prodded her husband to perform a terrible murder that she had planned, and she feels that she has gained nothing from it:

Nought's had, all's spent,

Where our desire is got without content.

’Tis safer to be that which we destroy

Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.

Then Macbeth comes in and she tries to make him feel better:

How now, my lord! Why do you keep alone,

Of sorriest fancies your companions making,

Using those thoughts which should indeed have died

With them they think on? Things without all remedy

Should be without regard. What's done is done.

Of course, she contradicts herself here; she hasn't taken her own advice to heart. Macbeth then goes on about how disturbed he is, and Lady Macbeth tries again to calm him down:

Come on,

Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks;

Be bright and jovial among your guests tonight.

The scene ends as Macbeth suggests to his wife that more killing may make them both feel more at ease, but he leaves his plans a secret. She's curious, but surely no less depressed and disturbed. All in all, she contradicts herself only in an attempt to make Macbeth not feel what she so keenly feels.

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kc4u | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted November 1, 2009 at 2:53 AM (Answer #2)

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In act 3 sc.2, we find Lady Macbeth count up the cost and benefit of her queenship and her husband's kingship:

Nought's had, all's spent.

Where our desire is got without content:

'Tis safer to be that which we destroy

Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.

Lady Macbeth is remorseful, and her words breathe loneliness, melancholy and futility.

But when Macbeth enters and iterates his fears that enough has not been done, Lady Macbeth hides her melancholy regret to soothe her husband's fear-stricken mind:

Come on;

Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks;

Be bright and jovial among your guests to-night.

Lady Macbeth is thus seen dwindling between a sense of deep despair within and a sense of urgent obligation to stand by her husband without.

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