Considering the play as a whole, who is more evil? Macbeth or Lady Macbeth ?  

Expert Answers

Want to remove ads?

Get ad-free questions with an eNotes 48-hour free trial.

Try It Free No Thanks
lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Considering the play Macbeth as a whole, Lady Macbeth is more evil than her husband Macbeth. At one point, Macbeth had changed his mind about killing King Duncan. In Act I, Scene VII, he shares his decision with his wife:

We will proceed no further in this business.
He [King duncan] has recently honored me, and I now have the Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
Which I want to enjoy for a bit longer, and
Not cast them aside so soon.

Truly, Macbeth has come to his senses. He reminds Lady Macbeth that King Duncan has recently shown honor to him. Macbeth has decided to enjoy the new honors that King Duncan has bestowed upon him. When Macbeth shares this news with his wife, Lady Macbeth proves she is the more evil one. She begins to insult Macbeth's manhood. She refers to him as cowardly. She shames Macbeth for deciding not to kill King Duncan. Lady Macbeth is determined to become the queen of Scotland. Through her manipulation, she convinces Macbeth to follow through with the murdering of King Duncan. She is manipulative and controlling. She has no second thoughts about murdering King Duncan. She insists that Macbeth is afraid:

Are you afraid
To be the same man in reality
As the one you wish to be? Would you have the crown
Which you believe to be the ornament of life,
And yet live like a coward in your own self-esteem?

No doubt, Lady Macbeth has no respect for her husband and his decision to not kill King Duncan. She insults Macbeth's manhood by insisting that he is afraid. With no apparent concern for King Duncan as a human being who is leading the country, Lady Macbeth convinces Macbeth to kill King Duncan. It is obvious that Lady Macbeth has an evil nature. Ultimately, Macbeth agrees to pacify her and follow through with the murdering of King Duncan, calling the event a terrible one:

I’m convinced, and I commit
Every part of my body to this terrible event.     

When it comes time for the actual murdering of King Duncan, Macbeth has trouble following through with the murder. He hallucinates, seeing a knife floating in the air. He has trouble remebering to leave the bloody weapons on the guards. Macbeth is in anguish throughout the murdering of King Duncan and the guards. Lady Macbeth has no patience with her husband's difficulty in his murderous task. When Macbeth forgets to leave the knives on the guards, he admits that he is afraid to go back. Lady Macbeth becomes exasperated with her husband. She impatiently insists that he just give her the knives and she will plant them on the guards. She insults Macbeth by calling him weak: 

Weak of purpose!
Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead
Are only like pictures. It is the eye of childhood
That’s afraid of a painted devil. If he bleeds,
I'll smear the faces of the grooms with it,
Because it must seem that they are guilty.

No doubt, Lady Macbeth is more evil than her husband. Macbeth admits he is afraid. Lady Macbeth claims that she could have killed Macbeth herself. She seems totally exhausted with Macbeth's fear. Truly, Lady Macbeth has no conscience at this point. While Macbeth admits that he is afraid and does not desire to follow through with the murder, Lady Macbeth scoffs at him. She ridicules her husband. She manipulates him by insulting his manhood. She claims he is afraid and cowardly. Ultimately, Lady Macbeth is the more evil of the two.