Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What is the physical description of Lady Macbeth?

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Perhaps, as the doppelganger of Macbeth--she calls him "my dearest partner of greatness"--the physical description of Lady Macbeth is insignificant.  Certainly, the emphasis of character development of Lady Macbeth lies in the tragedy of her imagination that transports her into the preternatural desire to rid her husband of "the milk of human kindness" by taking the milk from her "woman's breasts" for gall. She embraces male aggression and cruelty in her desire for power.

Their mutual lust for power assimilates Lady Macbeth into Macbeth. But, their assimilation is not complementary. As long as he has a conscience, she sacrifices hers; when Macbeth loses his conscience and embraces complete tyranny, Lady Macbeth is ridden with guilt and her conscience is so tortured that she kills herself out of her guilt, dissolving into the "walking shadow" of Macbeth.

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Alec Cranford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Unfortunately, there is no physical description of Lady Macbeth. The closest the reader gets is when Duncan flatters her as a "fair (i.e. beautiful) and noble hostess" in Act I, Scene 6. It is important to remember that Shakespeare was a playwright, and did not need to include the detailed physical description of his characters that a novelist would. However, Shakespeare clearly intends to juxtapose Lady Macbeth's ruthlessness and ambition with contemporary notions of femininity, and this contrast would have been more marked if Lady Macbeth was portrayed as beautiful and highly feminine in appearance. 

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Lady Macbeth is ambitious, manipulative, cruel and unstable.  There is not much about her physical appearance.  She is described simply as Macbeth’s wife, but her words speak volumes about her personality.  We can deduce that Lady Macbeth is a very feminine looking, beautiful woman but she behaves very harshly.  In Act I, Scene VII, Macbeth comments on the contradiction between her behavior and her looks.

Bring forth men-children only,

For thy undaunted mettle should compose

Nothing but males. (enotes etex pdf, p. 24)

Lady Macbeth comments herself that she has small hands (p. 77).  Duncan addresses her as “fair and noble hostess” (p. 22) in Act 1, Scene 6.

When we first meet her in Act I, Scene 5, she is reading a letter from Macbeth telling her about the prophecies and his promotion. ...

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