Is Lady Macbeth a static or dynamic character?

Expert Answers
jpn001 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A dynamic character is a character in a work of fiction or in a drama who undergoes some internal change. Lady Macbeth, in the play Macbeth, is such a character.

In the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth is ambitious and ruthless as she pushes Macbeth to kill King Duncan. She mixes encouragement with scorn and belittlement as she steers her husband to the decision that will determine both of their fates. When he cannot frame Duncan’s servants for the king’s murder, she takes it upon herself to complete the task that her shocked and guilty husband cannot complete.

In the third act of the play, however, we see a less dominating, and less certain, Lady Macbeth. As Macbeth exhibits signs of losing his grasp on reality, Lady Macbeth shows concern for him and his state of mind, making excuses for him with the nobles. Further, she seems far less certain of their course.

By the fifth act, Lady Macbeth is consumed with guilt, and the certainty of purpose that fueled her earlier in the play is gone. While sleepwalking, Lady Macbeth attempts to rub away imaginary blood that she perceives as covering her hands. This guilt over the people that her husband has killed and has had killed leads her to take her own life. At the time of her death, her ruthless will that seemed to dominate her husband’s decisions has been eroded away by the blood of the slain, and she has become a very different person from the woman she was in the early acts of the play.