How is Lady Macbeth cunning in Act I Scene 7 of Macbeth?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It could certainly be argued that Lady Macbeth displays cunning in her successful attempt to persuade her husband to go through with his plan to murder Duncan. She challenges her husband's masculinity and his courage in order to persuade him to carry out the murder and seize what she believes to be his destiny:

Art thou afeard 
To be the same in thine own act and valor 
As thou art in desire?

...When you durst do it, then you were a man.

It may seem that Lady Macbeth is not exactly behaving in a cunning manner here, as she is overt and even bellicose in insulting her husband. But she seems to recognize, as her husband's wife, exactly what will persuade him to do the deed. As a noble and a warrior, Macbeth is highly conscious of his sense of honor and courage, both of which are tied up with his masculinity. Like Marc Antony striking a nerve with the Roman mob in the wake of Caesar's murder, she knows just what to say to achieve the desired result, and in that sense her speech is a highly cunning example of persuasion.