Essay question: Lady Macbeth has at first too much, and then too little power over her husband. Do you agree? Agreed: Main points: -Lady Macbeth deteriorates over the course of the play as a...

Essay question: Lady Macbeth has at first too much, and then too little power over her husband. Do you agree?

Agreed:

Main points:

-Lady Macbeth deteriorates over the course of the play as a character and becomes mentally unstable

-Macbeth becomes greatly ambitious/ruthless and in fact outweighs and outgrows the influence of Lady Macbeth

-Lady Macbeth puts an end to her influence over her husband due to the guilt and havoc she has caused which she is continuously tormented by

Please give me some feedback as to whether these points are good, need amendments, etc. as they will form a concrete essay. I found the essay question online and it simply states "do you agree" and so i assumed it was persuasive in which you provide reasons and evidence to support this. please correct me in any mistakes whatsoever. Thank you in advance.

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amarang9's profile pic

amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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First point: Lady Macbeth becomes increasingly unstable throughout the play. This is true. When we first meet her, she is self-assured and determined, even more so than Macbeth himself. She is even willing to attempt to alter her personality ("unsex me") in order to rid herself of any feminine sensibilities that might weaken her resolve to make Macbeth king. She eventually succumbs to the guilt that results in (apparent) suicide. Now, it is correct to say she becomes more and more unstable, but she also becomes more ethical, given that she begins with calculated malice and ends with guilt, maybe even remorse and compassion. 

Second point: Macbeth's greed for power reaches a critical mass and by Act III he is beyond Lady Macbeth's influence; by then he's beyond any outside influence except for the weird sisters. In Act III, Scene 3, Lady Macbeth asks what is to be done about Banquo and Macbeth tells her it is better that she doesn't know until after it is done. Whereas earlier in the play, Lady Macbeth is a driving force encouraging Macbeth, he is now calling the shots and telling her to wait for the outcome. "Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck / Till thou applaud the deed." (III.iii.50-51) In the next scene, Macbeth sees Banquo's ghost. Lady Macbeth tries to bring him to his senses but Macbeth is too far gone into his own guilt and anxiety. Lady Macbeth does not appear in Act IV at all. By Act V, she is delusional, a "walking shadow" repeating things about trying to erase the blood stains. From the scene with Banquo's ghost onward, she has no real influence over Macbeth. 

Third point: Lady Macbeth does not put an end to her influence over Macbeth. He puts an end to her influence; he stops listening to her. In fact, by the time of the Banquo's ghost scene, they are not the same united pair they were at the start of the play. Lady Macbeth does put an end to her life in Act V and thereby eliminates any chance of influencing her husband (although he is affected by her death). But her influence over him ends before she ends her life. 

One could argue, using these points, that Lady Macbeth has too much influence over Macbeth in the early going and not enough in the end. Macbeth has second thoughts about killing Duncan and Lady Macbeth encourages him to go through with it; she has too much influence. When Macbeth starts to lose his mind, Lady Macbeth tries to get him focused so as not to arouse any suspicions. She can't shake him out of it. And when she is a shell of her former self, Macbeth is off fighting or takes no notice of her; she has not enough influence. By this time, it is not just that she has no influence over him; he no longer takes interest in her and therefore does nothing to help her when she mentally breaks down, eventually to the point of no return. 

Sources:

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