In Macbeth, what changes are seen in Lady Macbeth in act 3, scene 2?

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In act 3, scene 2, Lady Macbeth is beginning to regret that she and her husband murdered Duncan to gain the throne, saying "our desire is got without content." In other words, she means that they have gotten exactly what they wanted, the crown, but are not at ease or content with it: it hasn't brought either of them happiness.

This is a significant change for Lady Macbeth. Before Duncan's death, she was absolutely sure she wanted to be queen and did everything in her power to manipulate her husband into doing the murderous deed. She even called on dark powers to "unsex" her and kill her compassion so that she could goad her husband into killing his king.

Now, she is filled with a sense of hopelessness because their situation is so unhappy and insecure. She is beginning to think it might be better to be dead, saying

'Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy

In other words, she is doing an about-face. She is realizing the price of destruction (murder) that Macbeth had tried to explain to her before he killed Duncan: it means neither she nor Macbeth can ever again have real joy or peace. She is starting to understand that it is not worth it to be queen under these conditions.

Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, once so close, now try to hide from each other the depth of their unhappiness, though Macbeth's pain is so apparent that Lady Macbeth tells him to appear cheerful at the night's banquet. Macbeth hints to her that he is going to have Banquo killed, but no longer is confiding in her. The two are growing further and further apart, neither wanting to admit to the other what they both know to be true: that the murder was a mistake, and they both are miserable.

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By act 3, scene 2, Lady Macbeth has started to come to the conclusion that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. She and Macbeth thought that it would be so great to be king and queen, but they are not nearly as happy as they expected to be once they attain these positions of power. Before Macbeth enters the room, his wife says to herself,

Naught's had, all's spent
Where our desire is got without content.
'Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy. (3.2.6-9)

She means that she and Macbeth have done all they can to get where they are, and now that they have what they wanted, they find that they are not happy. It would be easier to be among the dead, like the king they murdered, than to find that they can only feel apprehensive and nervous as a result of the destruction they've caused.

However, Lady Macbeth presents a somewhat different face to her husband. Despite her obvious misgivings about their present situation, she presents herself as calm and unruffled to her husband. She tells him, "Things without all remedy / Should be without regard. What's done is done" (3.2.13-14). When he presents his own concerns—which are quite similar to the ones she expressed in private—she tries to soothe him. She encourages him to "leave" the trains of thought that bother him so much (3.2.40). The scene helps to show us how the Macbeths' relationship is changing. Lady Macbeth says very little in this scene, especially compared to act 1, scene 7, in which she actually speaks more often and with lines of longer duration than Macbeth. Whereas she seemed to be in control of their actions then, by act 3, scene 2, she seems to have lost that control. She isn't honest with Macbeth about her own fears and concerns, and he keeps his plans from her for the first time in the play. They were such a team prior to Duncan's murder, but this scene shows how their partnership is beginning to disintegrate.

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In Act 3, scene 2 of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth begin to be afraid and unhappy about Macbeth's murder of Duncan. She says at the beginning of the scene: "Naught's had, all's spent/Where our desire is got without consent/'Tis safer to be that which we destroy/Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy" (lines 6-9). In other words, she and Macbeth have gained nothing, or naught, when they have spent or risked all to kill Duncan, as their "desire," or Macbeth's attainment of the crown, is achieved through wrong means. She thinks it safer to be like the dead king than to live with "doubtful joy," or a troubled existence. 

By this point in the play, she is clearly regretting the doubt and uncertainly in which she and her husband must live after the regicide. However, she has not yet become insane, and, later in the scene, she instructs her husband to pretend everything is normal, even though he is also starting to be afraid. Macbeth is frightened that Banquo knows he has killed the king, and Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth to "sleek o'er your rugged looks. Be bright and jovial/Among your guests tonight" (lines 31-32). In other words, she instructs him to neaten himself up and act happy when people come to the castle that night. Macbeth is already plotting to kill Banquo, but he does not tell Lady Macbeth at this point. Instead, he says, "Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,/Till thou applaud the deed" (lines 51-52). In other words, he says that she won't know what he's planning until she sees Banquo is dead at his hand. At this point in the play, Lady Macbeth is turning to doubt, but she has not lost her mind yet. 

 

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