How does Lady Macbeth persuade her husband to go through with the plan in Macbeth?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lady Macbeth, in Shakespeare's Macbeth, is able to persuade her husband to go through with the plan to murder Duncan by insulting his masculinity.

Lady Macbeth states that her husband is a coward, "and live a coward in thine own esteem".  She does not hold anything back when belittling him. She knows that by doing this she will be able to get Macbeth to do anything that she believes needs to be done.

She holds the prophecy of his throne to be true. Once she is tempted by the hope of the crown, she insures that she will do anything that needs to be done to insure that the prophecy will come true. By her husband gaining the crown, she gains the crown as well.

In a conversation between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, Lady Macbeth goads him into thinking that only through his murder of Duncan will he be considered a man to her:

When you durst do it, then you were a man; And, to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man.

During this period, men were admired and held up based upon their manhood. To question ones manhood, as Lady Macbeth does, is simply saying that the man is worthless- similar to that of a woman during the time. Lady Macbeth knows that it is important to be seen as a powerful and noble man- this is the way that she is able to persuade Macbeth to fulfill his destiny and claim the crown.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As well as attacking Macbeth's masculinity, Lady Macbeth also coaches Macbeth in the art of deception. This is shown clearly in act 1, scene 5, when they are preparing for Duncan's arrival at their castle. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth that he should look like an "innocent flower" but be the "serpent" underneath it. In other words, he should act in a very friendly and warm manner towards Duncan, so that nobody suspects that he is planning on committing the murder. By providing this coaching, Lady Macbeth ensures that Macbeth does not let his nerves get the better of him. 

Lady Macbeth also persuades her husband to go through with the murder by taking care of the planning. She makes sure that Macbeth has access to the daggers, for example, and frames the servants afterward by leaving the murder weapon on their persons.

By doing this, Lady Macbeth takes control of the situation, making it impossible for Macbeth to change his mind.