In Act III, Scene II of Macbeth, is Lady Macbeth enjoying her new position?

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kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 1) Educator

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In this scene, Lady Macbeth does not seem to be enjoying her new position. This is shown in the conversation she has with her husband in which she tries to soothe his mind and generally console him. She talks of "doubtless joy," for instance, and uses the phrase "what's done is done." This implies that she feels some regret but has accepted that the past cannot be changed.

Moreover, she tells Macbeth to act "bright" and "jovial" in front of his guests. This implies that Lady Macbeth's good mood is also an illusion and that internally she does not feel happiness or satisfaction.

Finally, Lady Macbeth is also intrigued and slightly worried by Macbeth's future plans. Remember that she does not know that Macbeth intends to kill Banquo and Fleance, but the fact that she marvels at his words shows that she is keen to know what will happen next and, perhaps, feels some uncertainty.

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gbeatty's profile pic

gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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No, not really. Consider these lines:

Lady Macbeth: 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. (III.2)

Here she's ironically saying, even though we spent everything, we have nothing: she clearly devalues the crown they won with the word "nought," meaning "nothing." 

They don't have a chance to hold to anything they've gained—it's all crumbling away. Despite this, though, she's clinging to her chosen path, nudging Macbeth to put on a happy face and charm the guests, so they can disarm those who watched them attain their position by brutal methods.

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

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I do not think that Lady Macbeth is truly enjoying her new position because she is beginning to realize the futility in the killing of Duncan, and she is afraid that her guilt will be exposed.  She laments as she goes to discuss her discontent with Macbeth: 

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.

This statement shows her incipient regret at what she and her husband have done as she realizes that she can attain no joy from a position that was not rightfully hers and that was gained by such a foul deed.  For Lady Macbeth, the situation will only become worse.

 

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