1 Answer | Add Yours
Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare's Macbeth questions her husband's manhood when he decides he does not want to go ahead with assassinating Duncan.
She chides him:
Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valor
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life [the crown],
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting "I dare not" wait upon "I would,"
Like the poor cat i'th'adage? (Act 1.7.39-44)
The adage she refers to is: The cat would eat fish but she will not wet her feet," and urges the idle or timid to action.
In short, Lady Macbeth accuses her husband of cowardice. She asks if he is afraid to act to achieve what he desires to achieve, if he's willing to give up that which he believes to be the most important thing in life, and then live with himself as a coward later. She asks if he's willing to be like a cat who wants to eat fish but is afraid to get its feet wet.
Perhaps, though, concerning her actually daring Macbeth, as you ask about, the most specific dare may come before the above lines, leading into them. After Lady Macbeth rhetorically asks her husband if the hope he exhibited when they previously talked about assassinating Duncan has since turned "green and pale," she quips the following:
...From this time
Such I account thy love. (Act 1.7.38-39)
From now on, she will view his love as "green and pale."
This may be a threat even more than a dare, but I think the dare is implied. If Macbeth doesn't go through with the assassination, he will lose her love. And she is daring him to not go through with it.
Macbeth is certainly gullible here, but he is also corrupt. He will later use the same strategy--the questioning of manhood--when he bullies the murderers into murdering Banquo. Although, of course, at least he won't threaten to withdraw his love from them.
We’ve answered 319,816 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question