Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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How does the character of Lady Macbeth change throughout the play Macbeth?

Lady Macbeth changes significantly throughout the play. In the beginning, Lady Macbeth is ruthless and will do anything to make sure her husband becomes king. She has a heartless attitude and mocks her husband for his weakness in hesitating to kill the king. However, Lady Macbeth becomes gradually more unstrung by her guilt over Duncan's murder. She sleepwalks and hallucinates that her hands are covered in blood. Eventually, the guilt overpowers her, and she dies, presumably by suicide.

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Lady Macbeth goes from being violent and kind of insane to being timid and really insane.

Early in the story, she wants Macbeth to be king no matter what he has to do to get it.  As a result, she is able to convince him pretty strongly to kill King Duncan.  When she thinks that will be enough is not clear.  He also has to frame the king's sons and kill Banquo.

Lady Macbeth soon begins to regret what she has done, and what her husband has become.  Before long, she starts to doubt herself.  When Macbeth sees Banquo's ghost, she is worried--especially since there are witnesses. 

Finally, she seems to break.  She begins sleepwalking, hallucinating that the metaphorical blood on her hands is really there, and she can never wash it off.




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The above commentators have tried to point out how differently Lady Macbeth has been projected throughout the play. However, it is crucial to note how her character changes throughout the play. Lady Macbeth has been projected in three different ways. She is...

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jaclyn567 | Student

The play ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare is set in Medieval Scotland. So the way in which Shakespeare portrayed lady Macbeth during the first few acts would have shocked and intimidated the audience, to see a woman of such opinion and mental strength. Because, according to medieval society standards, women were meant to be subordinates.

In the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth's Character can be seen as stronger willed, and even more masculine than that of her husband, Macbeth's. She is the engineer behind the plot to Kill King Duncan and delegates every step taken. One could even argue that she is more ambitious than Macbeth, and only later on in the play does his vaulting ambition surpass hers.

"Stop up th’access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious vistings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
Th’effect and it."

However, once the natural order of things is disrupted, and King Duncan is killed, Lady Macbeth's psyche begins to unravel. She starts losing control of her husband, and then slowly, her mind. The once ruthless woman begins to go mad, stricken with guilt and doubt. She becomes remorseful for the murder of the King and experiences hallucinations of blood on her hands that she cannot wash clean. She begins to talk in her sleep, supposedly even admitting to her involvement in the crimes against the crown.

"Out, damned spot; out, I say. One, two, -- why, then ‘tis time to do’t. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? – Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him."

One can see a massive contrast between Lady Macbeth's character in the beginning of the play and the craven woman she becomes before her demise.

theasiangangster | Student

Lady Macbeth starts off innocent until reading the letter from Macbeth, telling her about the witches' prophecies. She quickly changes and becomes cold-blooded and starts plotting against Duncan. She persuades Macbeth and pushes him into doing the deed. After the first murder, she starts feeling guilt but Macbeth's desire of power grows stronger. Lady Macbeth feels anxiety and guilt, then beginning to hallucinate. Her health becomes really bad and she kind of turns into a mad-woman. She ends her own life by jumping off the ramparts of her castle.

albomamii | Student

well at first she was blood thirsty and all for the murder of King Duncan,and she was constantly telling Macbeth dont think about the murder,whatever is done cannot be undone,she also says that if we do think about the murder of Duncan it will drive us mad.So it appears in advance she sort of knows that thinking about the murder of Duncan would drive her crazy,which is foreshadowing what actually happens later in the play.She also questions Macbeth's manhood and tells him she'd rather kill her own child than to break a promise.At the end she pays her price,her guilt evetually just builds up so much that she committs suicide.So yea just the knowledge of Banquo's death and Lady Macduffs' Family's death drives her insane.

gwencuizon | Student

Lady Macbeth is one feisty character. She does not wait for things to fall into her lap, she takes matters into her own hands. She makes things happen.  She knows what she wants and how to get it- at all cost.  She is a very exciting character, very ambitious, ruthless and her morality leaves a lot to be desired.  She did not think twice about plotting to murder King Duncan. She persuaded her husband to murder King Duncan by continuously questioning his manhood and capabilities, “Art thou afeard. To be the same in thine own act and valour. As thou art in desire? (Macbeth, I, vii)”.

 Her husband hesitated numerous times and almost did not push through with the plan but Lady Macbeth steely determination abets him to continue with the plan to commit crime.  Sparknotes believes that Shakespeare uses the women to push Macbeth “undaunted mettle should compose / Nothing but males” (I.vii.73–74).

After the murder occurred, Lady Macbeth changes for the worst.  Ambition blinded her before the murder but guilt defeated her after. She may be too ambitious but still her conscience bothers her.  “A little water clears us of this deed: How easy is it, then!

(Macbeth, II, ii).  Her life and her sanity slowly fall apart.  Lady Macbeth’s guilt leads to her untimely demise as she commits suicide.  A very tragic end triggered by one tragic night.