Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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How does Shakespeare show Lady Macbeth's ignorance in act 3, scene 4 of Macbeth?

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In act 3, scene 4, everyone but Macbeth is ignorant of the appearance of Banquo's ghost, lending Macbeth's terrified reactions the appearance of madness. At first, it appears that Lady Macbeth may be the exception to this general ignorance, since she is so adept at covering for him:

Sit, worthy friends: my lord is often thus,
And hath been from his youth: pray you, keep seat;
The fit is momentary; upon a thought
He will again be well: if much you note him,
You shall offend him and extend his passion:
Feed, and regard him not.

However, it quickly becomes clear that, though she knows something is seriously wrong with Macbeth, she has no idea what it is. She asks her husband:

Why do you make such faces? When all's done,
You look but on a stool.

Macbeth insists that he "saw him" but does not say who he is, and Lady Macbeth does not inquire. Indeed, she seems quite uninterested in what exactly is troubling Macbeth. She only cares about managing the thanes as efficiently as she can. She tries to placate them as long as possible and, when it is clear that the feast is ruined beyond repair, she sends them away with all speed:

I pray you, speak not; he grows worse and worse;
Question enrages him. At once, good night:
Stand not upon the order of your going,
But go at once.

Even when they have all gone, she does not ask what Macbeth saw to make him react so violently. Lady Macbeth seems to have become used to her husband's visions and his strange behavior. She tries to manage them as best she can, but she no longer questions him about them.

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