How do the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth progress throughout the play?How do the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth progress throughout the play?

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth somewhat trade personalities as the play progresses.  At first, Macbeth is reluctant to make any moves to help him become king as evidenced by his soliloquy at the start of Act 1, sc. 7 and even tells Lady Macbeth that they will not proceed with any thoughts of killing Duncan.  Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, is full of strength and resolve.  As soon as she reads her husband's letter telling her of the witches' prophecies in Act 1, sc. 5, she is determined that Duncan should be killed so that Macbeth could become king.  She is the one who plans the murder and chides her husband for being weak after the murder when he looks sorrowfully at the blood on his hands (Act 2, sc. 2) and tells Macbeth that water will wash away the evidence of their deed.  By Act 5, Lady Macbeth has gone mad due to her guilty conscience.  In Act 5, sc. 1, she sleepwalks, talks to herself, demands a candle always be lit around her, and washes unseen blood from her hands continually. Macbeth, on the other hand, has become the resolute one.  He is determined to win the battle that is unfolding and advancing toward his castle.  He does not turn and run, but stands to fight.  Of course, part of that resolve comes from a false sense of security that the witches gave him with their prophecies.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, Lady Macbeth progresses.  She has essentially no conscience as the play begins.  When she realizes what her husband has done, she comes to regret her role in it and it eventually drives her mad.  Macbeth does not really ever accept that he was wrong.