How does Shakespeare portray the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?

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Shakespeare portrays Macbeth and his wife's relationship as dynamic and unique in his classic play Macbeth. Towards the beginning of the play, Macbeth and his wife are extremely close and like-minded. Macbeth demonstrates trust in his wife by informing her about the witches ' seemingly favorable prophecies and reveals...

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Shakespeare portrays Macbeth and his wife's relationship as dynamic and unique in his classic play Macbeth. Towards the beginning of the play, Macbeth and his wife are extremely close and like-minded. Macbeth demonstrates trust in his wife by informing her about the witches' seemingly favorable prophecies and reveals his love for Lady Macbeth by referring to her as "my dearest partner of greatness."

Once Lady Macbeth receives her husband's letter, she reveals her equally ambitious nature by immediately plotting King Duncan's assassination and calling upon evil spirits to consume her soul. In addition to portraying Macbeth and his wife's love and admiration for each other, Shakespeare also reverses traditional gender roles by depicting Lady Macbeth as an aggressive, forceful woman who encourages her timid husband to commit a violent crime.

In act 1, scene 7, Macbeth has reservations about committing regicide and does not want to assassinate King Duncan. However, Lady Macbeth reveals her cold, callous nature by challenging her husband's masculinity and calling him a coward. Macbeth succumbs to his wife's peer pressure by assassinating Duncan in his sleep. Following the crime, Lady Macbeth remains composed while Macbeth becomes hysterical and begins to experience hallucinations. Despite her resolute, hostile nature, Lady Macbeth becomes overwhelmed with guilt and slowly begins to lose her mind as well.

As Macbeth becomes increasingly bloodthirsty and tyrannical, his marriage suffers and he becomes distant from his wife. Macbeth even plots Banquo's murder behind Lady Macbeth's back and the couple no longer acts in unison. Eventually, Macbeth becomes completely insensitive towards his wife's needs and does not grieve when he discovers that she died. Macbeth responds by saying,

She should have died hereafter. There would have been a time for such a word

(Shakespeare, 5.5.17-19).

Overall, Macbeth and his wife have a unique relationship, where Lady Macbeth initially takes the lead and is portrayed as the more powerful, dominant partner. Their marriage is also dynamic as they gradually become distant from each other following King Duncan's assassination.

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