Do you feel any sympathy at all for Lady Macbeth as she talks about her "doubtful joy" in scene 2? Explain( Act 3)  Do you feel any sympathy at all for Lady Macbeth as she talks about her...

Do you feel any sympathy at all for Lady Macbeth as she talks about her "doubtful joy" in scene 2? Explain( Act 3)


Do you feel any sympathy at all for Lady Macbeth as she talks about her "doubtful joy" in scene 2? Explain( Act 3)

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susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Until this point, the reader has no sympathy for Lady Macbeth.  She is eager to kill Duncan after he has been so generous to her and Macbeth, even to the point of giving her a diamond and Macbeth a promotion.  Shakespeare goes to great lengths to present Duncan as a kind king who is grateful to his loyal subjects, rewarding them in kind. 

So up until this point, Lady Macbeth seems heartless.  Yet, we see in this scene that she has risked "her eternal jewel" for nothing.  Killing Duncan has not brought her the happiness that she expected.  Instead, we see that her relationship with her husband is growing more distant.  She has to send a servant to arrange a meeting with him.  She will not let Macbeth see her sorrow and must put on a false front to him as she attempts to cheer him up.  Ironically, both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are miserable and think that Duncan, being dead, is better off than they.  Yet, they cannot find comfort or refuge in each other.  Lady Macbeth hides her true feelings from her husband in an effort to comfort him and Macbeth hides his plotting to kill Banquo from his wife. 

Killing Duncan has cost Lady Macbeth her husband, an effect that she not anticipate.  She also did not anticipate that this deed has created a monster out of her loving husband, that it has begun a killing spree that ends in the destruction of both of them.  I don't know if I feel sympathy for Lady Macbeth, but I do feel regret that she did not have the foresight to see the ramifications of her actions. 


Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lady Macbeth's "doubtful joy" does not create in me any sympathy. How dare she think there will be any joy for them when they rose to their position through such evil and bloody means.  It's true, as susan3smith says, that Lady Macbeth lost way more than she anticipated--that their actions created some collateral damage.  Who doesn't know that committing such an outrageously bold act is going to have consequences?   She's obviously a smart woman, but she got swept away by her own ambition, and the fact that her joy is not complete, that it is temporary, moves me not at all.

teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do not feel any sympathy for Lady Macbeth at this point in the play.  She makes the statement about "doubtful joy" only after she and Macbeth start to feel the effects of their having killed King Duncan.  They are afraid that someone will find out what they've done, so they are uneasy in their new position.  They should have to take responsibility for their actions, so I don't feel sympathy for them.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lady Macbeth and Macbeth have been profoundly in love and now things are coming apart.  Had she not urged her husband on his murderous path which brings but a "doubtful joy," the reader could feel more sympathy for her, but her humanity has been lost--at least until she goes insane and then regains some of it.

hell-is-empty | Student

 I can sympathise with Lady Macbeth. She is married to a complete brute (marriages were arranged then and if you read the description the sergeant gives in the second scene, Macbeth's brutality it immediately revealed) and the attempt she made to defend herself from his frustration and indeed liberate herself from society has resulted only in 'doubtful joy'. She even says she wished she was that which she had destroyed instead (she believes Duncan had the better end of the deal - he has not to live with the guilt of the actions of her husband who immediately sets about murdering his best friend and women and children regardless of her views and his gained power). I disagree with what people say about her ambition taking control: she would not have wanted the higher status. Being Queen puts more pressure on her to provide an heir, something she evidently is not able to do. All ideas originate from Macbeth. She never speaks of her desire to be Queen. I think she wants him to be happy so that he does not take out his frustration on her.

picturesque | Student

Yes on one hand i feel sympathy for Lady Macbeth because she is suffering from inferiority complex and wants to be raised to a higher status. It is natural desire to rise to higher position in a society but the means people chose to fulfill their desires differ. Lady Macbeth has the same instinct in her but she unfortunately choses a wrong way for her intentions. So she faces tragedy because of this wrong choice.

And on the other hand i see her as a cruel woman who kills her benefactor and therefore does not deserve to be sympathized.