In Shakespeare's Macbeth, how is Lady Macbeth presented by Shakespeare from Act 1, Scene 5 to Act 5, Scene 1 where she dies?

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lady Macbeth is corrupted by the very idea of having power and control over Scotland. She insists that her husband kill King Duncan and gain the position of king of Scotland. She is the driving force behind Macbeth. She mentions that Duncan shall never see tomorrow, indicating her plans to have Macbeth murder him. Then, she exclaims that she and Macbeth will have kingly power:


O, the sun shall never See that tomorrow! Your face, my baron, is like a book where men May read strange matters. To divert attention from the time Look like the time; have welcome in your eyes, Your hands, your tongue. Look like the innocent flower, Only be the serpent underneath it. The king Must be provided for. And you shall put This night's great business into my care, Which shall give kingly power and mastery alone To all our nights and days to come.

Lady Macbeth has it all figured out, but Macbeth is not so certain as to follow through with the murder. In fact, Macbeth has decided to postpone murdering Duncan. At this decision, Lady Macbeth challenges his manhood, using manipulation to get him to follow through with their plans to murder Duncan:

We will proceed no further in this business. He has recently honored me, and I now have the Golden opinions from all sorts of people, Which I want to enjoy for a bit longer, and Not cast them aside so soon.

Was the hope you dressed yourself in Drunk? Did it go to sleep it off? And does it wake up now, hung over From what it so freely committed to? I will calculate your love From this time forward. Are you afraid To be the same man in reality As the one you wish to be? Would you have the crown Which you believe to be the ornament of life, And yet live like a coward in your own self-esteem, Letting "I shouldn’t" wait for "I would,"Like the poor cat in the proverb?

Lady Macbeth is manipulating and controlling. She is able to convince Macbeth to follow through with the murder of King Duncan, claiming she would do it herself had Duncan not so resembled her father sleeping.

For shame! I am afraid they have gotten up, And the deed’s not done. The attempt, and not the deed, Confuses us. Listen! I laid their daggers ready. He couldn’t have missed them. If the King hadn’t resembled My father as he slept, I would’ve done it. My husband!

Again, Lady Macbeth is manipulating her husband to convince him to kill Duncan, claiming she has the courage.

Of course, Macbeth murders Duncan. Lady Macbeth plants the daggers on the guards. She bloodies her own hands.

Later, she begins suffering from guilt. She appears to be losing her mind. She cannot wash the bloodstains from her hands. Ultimately, she takes her own life, thus ending her madness.