ultimately which character do you find most evil macbeth or lady macbeth and why?  ultimately which character do you find most evil macbeth or lady macbeth and why?  

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fezziwig eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An argument could be made for both, for both are evil; but the one that is more evil is Lady Macbeth; Here are the reasons: look at her first soliloquy in Act I, scene v; there she attempts to sell her soul to the "spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts" by asking them to "unsex" her and to fill her with "direst cruelty." Then she asks these spirits to "Come to [her] woman's breasts / And take [her] milk for gall."

Then when Macbeth arrives home and tells her that King Duncan is to be a guest of theirs that evening, she states "O' never / Shall sun that morrow see." In other words, Duncan will not live to see the sunrise, which shocks Macbeth because he hasn't mentioned anything about killing the king.

Later in Act I when Macbeth tells her that he has decided to not go through with killing the king, she questions his manhood and states that had she promised to do what Macbeth said he would do, that is kill the king, she would "dash the brains out" of the "babe that milks her." In other words, she would kill her own baby before she backed out of killing the king. This is perhaps the most evil characteristic of Lady Macbeth that is revealed.

Yes, we see that the spirits did not "make thick [her] blood and she loses her mind and commits suicide, but you have to admit, what she does in convincing Macbeth to go through with the murder, her attempt to sell her soul and her comments on sacrificing her own child to obtain the crown out shade Macbeth's evil deeds.


Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Shakespeare's Macbeth, both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are evil, but if you have to choose I would suggest that Macbeth is more evil.

Lady Macbeth only plans the assassination.  When she has the opportunity to do the killing herself (and this would be ideal in her mind, since she doesn't trust her husband to carry out the assassination), she can't do it because the sleeping Duncan reminds her or her father:

Had he not resembled

My father as he slept, I had done't.

Macbeth suffers great guilt before he kills Duncan, as evidenced by the bloody dagger scene, but he goes through with it. 

Furthermore, Macbeth orders the killings of Banquo and Fleance (a child), as well as Macduff's family.  Those murders are committed without Lady Macbeth's knowledge or approval.

Finally, she breaks down from the guilt.  She suffers depression, sleepwalks, and commits suicide.  Macbeth dies nobly, fighting Macduff face to face as warriors do.  He is not devastated by his guilt as his wife is.

linalarocca eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with post #4. Lady Macbeth is much more evil in her thoughts and her actions. Lady Macbeth pushes Macbeth to kill Duncan after he tells her that he does not want to kill Duncan. She speaks of killing her own baby if she had made the promise to do so. She wants the spirits to "unsex" her in order to make her brave enough to murder. If she had not lost her mind, she would probably had plunged forward in her evil doings. Her suicide does not make her less of an evil character. Macbeth is a coward. He kills Duncan while Duncan is sleeping, and wishes he could wake him with the knocking which he hears immediately after Duncan's death. He hires other people to kill most of his victims. Macbeth can not sleep because of the murders he has plotted. Lady Macbeth is much more devious in her thinking and her actions.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I consider Lady Macbeth to be the evil one as she requests the possession of the spirits to 'unsex' her. She is aware of her husband's humanity 'he is too full of the milk of human kindness' and knows that she will need to override his honest nature to achieve her goal - to have her husband King.

We need to remember that Macbeth is a seasoned warrior - a killing machine- and yet it is he who refuses the deed. Although Lady Macbeth suffers for her actions and is perhaps not 'fill'd from the crown to the toe top full of direst cruelty', she has mettle enough to push her husband to commit the bloody act of the murder of Duncan and set him on the chain of behaviour which ends in carnage.

She asked to be made evil, and her wish is fulfilled.

wmagley | Student
ultimately which character do you find most evil macbeth or lady macbeth and why?  

ultimately which character do you find most evil macbeth or lady macbeth and why?



At first, it is easy to label Lady Macbeth as more evil.  She is very relentless in her pursuit of power through Macbeth.  When Macbeth falters on killing King Duncan, she calls him a coward in many ways.  She even returns the daggers to frame the guards because he is so horrified by his deed.  When Duncan's death is discovered, she pretends to faint in order to cover up Macbeth's nervous babble. But, this is the end of her evil reign. 

From here, Macbeth definately becomes the more evil of the two.  He hires murderers to kill Banquo, Fleance, and Macduff's family.  He does not consult Lady Macbeth nor tell her the plans.  Some people believe that Lady Macbeth is the messenger in disguise, who warns the Macduffs of the danger.  After all of these murders, Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking and talking about the murders in her sleep.  Obviously, she is guilt-ridden; and, she only was involved in Duncan's murder. 

Macbeth becomes a person without guilt or remorse.  He is on a mission to kill all people who threaten his reign as king.  He is ruthless and brutal.  He does not even show much emotion, when his wife commits suicide.  The most regret he portrays is when he realizes that he listened to the witches too much and took their words very literally. I think by the end of the play that Macbeth is the more evil of the two. 

nusratfarah | Student

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mkcapen1 | Student

I find Macbeth's wife to be more evil but at the same time she suffers for her transgressions.  When Lady Macbeth finds out about the witches prophecy she wants her husband to gain the throne as soon as possible.  She thought since it was going to happen anyway that he should go ahead and kill the king and take the throne.

Lady Macbeth manipulates her husband with her words and sets up a plot with him to execute the king.  Macbeth dies what she says.  He is evil as well for his actions.  However, once she begins to stoop in her actions she eventually pays the ultimate price and kills herself.  She knows that she is doomed for her actions.