How does Lady Macbeth show control in Act 2, Scene 2 of Macbeth?

Expert Answers
favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lady Macbeth maintains control of the situation (and her husband) in many ways in Act 2, Scene 2.  

First, she instructs Macbeth on how to think about the act he has just committed; when he claims, "This is a sorry sight," she replies, "A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight" (2.2.28, 2.2.29).  Further, when he expresses his anxiety about his inability to speak the word "Amen" immediately after he'd stabbed Duncan, she tells him to

Consider it not so deeply [....].  
These deeds must not be thought 
After these ways; so, it will make us mad. (2.2. 41-46)  

She wants him to stop obsessing about the murder because she fears that such obsessive thinking will ultimately drive them insane. They need to move on.

Second, Lady Macbeth alone has the foresight and wherewithal to properly frame the chamberlains for Duncan's murder. When Macbeth returns to her, he seems to be in shock and still carries the daggers he used with him.  She asks, 

Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
They must lie there.  Go, carry them and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood.  (2.2.62-64)

She knows that the murder weapons must be found with the servants if others are to believe they committed the murder.  When Macbeth refuses to go back into the room with Duncan's body, Lady Macbeth places the daggers there herself. When she returns to Macbeth, she chastises him for his cowardice, further showing the control she exercises over her husband:

My hands are of your color, but I shame
To wear a heart so white [....].
How easy it is, then!  Your constancy
Hath left you unattended.  (2.2.82-88)

While Macbeth laments the act, fears the eternal consequences of what he's done, and seems to cower before a corpse that cannot hurt him, Lady Macbeth manages the situation and her husband with apparent ease.  (Though we find out, later, that her conscience begins to eat away at her, too.)

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator
The scene opens with a short soliloquy by Lady Macbeth before her husband arrives. Interestingly, she explains that she has taken a drink to bolster her courage:
That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold.
Further, the alcohol makes it possible for her to take control of the situation ("hath given me fire"):
What hath quenched them [Duncan's servants] hath given me fire.
Not only does she spike the servants' drinks, she admonishes Macbeth to stay calm after he returns from murdering Duncan. Macbeth is deeply upset, or as we might say today, "freaked out," by what he has done, almost raving as he realizes there is no going back to innocence after this night. Lady Macbeth tells him firmly not to think morbid thoughts. She also gives him the practical advice to wash the blood from his hands so that nobody sees him this way:
You do unbend your noble strength to think
So brainsickly of things. Go get some water,
And wash this filthy witness from your hand.
 
Because Macbeth won't go back to Duncan's room, Lady Macbeth brings the bloody daggers that Macbeth should have left behind back there, framing the servants. 
 
However, for all of Lady Macbeth's capability in handling the details of the murder, her frailty is foreshadowed when she admits she couldn't murder Duncan herself, saying he looked too much like her father. (That sounds like an excuse.) It's also ironic that while Lady Macbeth chides her husband for worrying about a little blood, she will be the one to sleepwalk and endlessly try to wash the blood from her hands—and eventually will be the one to crack and go mad, while Macbeth grows harder and harder. 
 
pschank | Student

Lady Macbeth first tries to distract Macbeth from his guilt over his murder of the boys, and tells him not to think about it anymore since it is done and over with. Then, since Macbeth is almost incoherent she physically takes the bloody daggers from him to dispose of the murder weapons by planting them on the grooms, in order that they take the blame.

In addition, she gives the distraught Macbeth commands on how they will literally clean the blood off their hands so they do not appear guilty. In essence, she takes charge of the situation, gets rid of the evidence and is prepared appear innocent when the murdered boys are discovered.