What lines, from Macbeth, depict that Lady Macbeth is both unlike a woman and like a woman?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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William Shakespeare's play Macbeth breaks some of the characteristics of the typical woman. This is seen in the character of Lady Macbeth.

Readers first become aware that Lady Macbeth is not the typical woman when they are introduced to her in Act I, scene v.

Unsex me here
And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full
Of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood,
Stop up the access and passage to remorse. (42-44)

In the previous lines, Lady Macbeth realizes her "pitfalls" of being a woman. She asks the spirits to "unsex" her, making her more like a man. She believes that Macbeth is far too weak ("Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness") to take the throne for himself. She, on the other hand, knows that it takes a powerful person (male) to be as brutal as deemed necessary to commit a murder.

This idea is further highlighted when Lady Macbeth asks to be less woman-like (emotional and soft) when she defines a typical woman as being filled with a "passage to remorse."

While she, privately, desires to be more like a man, when she is around others (with the exception of her husband) she acts very womanly. In Act II, scene iii, Lady Macbeth fakes fainting ("Help me hence, ho!" 131) when she finds out about Duncan's murder. She puts on a show, illuminating the fact that she is too weak (like a woman) to handle such horrific news. Her behavior shows her "need" for a man to rescue her and come to her side.

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