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What are the qualities of Lady Macbeth? Qualities or characteristics?

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vvjackie08 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 14, 2008 at 7:49 AM via web

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What are the qualities of Lady Macbeth?

Qualities or characteristics?

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 14, 2008 at 8:08 AM (Answer #1)

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Lady Macbeth is a ruthless, ambitious woman, who acts on the information her husband gives her about the witches prophecy without hesitation or thought of consequence in the beginning of the play.

Lady Macbeth is a manipulative wife who believes that her husband is not man enough to commit the murder.  She thinks that he is too soft.  In fact, she believes that masculine men behave aggressively and act violently. She wishes that she were a man, so that she could act on the prophecy and kill the king. 

Lady Macbeth, one of Shakespeare's most evil female characters,  is depicted as a harsh, cruel and power hungry woman with no conscience. The only evidence that is given that Lady Macbeth possesses any gentle sensibility is when she tells her husband that she could not murder King Duncan in his bed, because he looked like her father sleeping.  At first this is the only vulnerability that is expressed about the character.

Later in the play, she does get consumed with conscience  and ends up suffering from terrible paralyzing guilt.

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terafrayne | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted May 2, 2008 at 12:16 AM (Answer #2)

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Lady Macbeth is figuratively two people. The woman before the murder of King Duncan, and the woman after the murder of King Duncan. I am more intrigued by the qualities she exhibits after the murder of King Duncan. Essentially, she is wracked with guilt. The qualities that Lady Macbeth and Macbeth exhibit after the murder of Duncan provides a poignant commentary on human behavior that follows grave actions. Committing the murder enables Macbeth to throw off feelings of guilt if he can continue to indulge his lust for blood and power. Lady Macbeth, who had no inhibitions or hesitation in the beginning, is now overwhelmed with feelings of shame and guilt. She sleepwalks, she imagines herself attempting to wash blood from her hands, and her marriage is ruined because she has isolated herself. These are some of the elements that lead up to her suicide. Lady Macbeth stands with Opelia and other women  in Shakespeare's works who lose their mind.   

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pwkenricktan | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted October 11, 2010 at 7:13 AM (Answer #3)

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Lady Macbeth seems to be a genuinely evil person from the start, unlike macbeth who shows signs of Cowardice not because of he's inability to kill, but because of he's loyalty to the nation and the king. Lady Macbeth instigates Macbeth to do so, this makes her very manipulative, in a real life situation we relate to is, A woman leaving her husband, because he is timid(hmmm alot of movies do this eh? Cant remeber which, but one in which the lead is troubled to the the heist initially, but then does it for the lead lady). However after Macbeth Power Hungry Raid continues, she started feeling guilty and thus killed herself

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 5, 2014 at 7:36 PM (Answer #4)

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Alack, I am afraid they have awaked
And ’tis not done. The attempt and not the deed
Confounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers ready;
He could not miss ‘em. Had he not resembled
My father as he slept, I had done't.   (Act 2, Scene 2)

This whole speech by Lady Macbeth is intended to "humanize" her. It shows that she is not nearly as confident as she has been acting with her husband. She is good about hiding her fears, worries, and guilt from other people, but she is human and a woman. Shakespeare usually tried to show that all his characters were mixtures of good and bad, strength and weakness. That was why he showed the wicked King Claudius at prayer in Hamlet. It is the only way an author can make characters seem like real people. We are all mixtures of good and bad.

When Shakespeare has Lady Macbeth say

Had he not resembled
My father as he slept, I had done't

the purpose is consistent with everything she says in this speech. It shows that she has a tender side to her nature. She is not only a real human being but a real woman. She loved her father, as most daughters do. She is not totally a female monster.

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