Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What arguments does Lady Macbeth use to convince Macbeth to commit the murder?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Lady Macbeth is distressed when Macbeth decides to call off his plan to kill Duncan. She therefore uses her strongest arguments to persuade him to go ahead with the murder. As she knows her husband well, she realizes she needs to appeal to his sense of courage and masculinity. First, she suggests he is a coward for having qualms that hold him back from achieving his dreams. She asks him if he wants to
live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would" . . . .
Second, she projects herself as more masculine and manly than he is. She says she would murder her own baby if she had promised to do so. As she puts it:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums
And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.
Macbeth is impressed with his wife's resolve and hard-heartedness. He tells her she should be the mother of sons. As she expects, he doesn't want to look emasculated in her eyes or his own, and so her words steel him to the task.

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Throughout the play, it is Lady Macbeth who plans and urges her husband to kill King Duncan. In Act One, Scene 7, Macbeth agonizes about whether he can kill Duncan and doesn't feel like his ambition is worth committing regicide. Shortly after, Lady Macbeth enters and Macbeth tells her that he cannot go through with the murder. She then begins to question his manhood and asks Macbeth if he is a coward. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth that if he follows through with the plan, he will be considered more than a man. She also makes Macbeth feel ashamed by telling him that if she had known he was such a coward, she would have "dashed" their baby's brains out. Macbeth then considers the possibility of failure, but Lady Macbeth quiets his concerns by assuring him that if he has courage they won't fail. She goes on to explain the plan which includes framing Duncan's two chamberlains then acting like they grieve Duncan's death. Lady Macbeth finally succeeds in giving her husband confidence to go through with murdering Duncan. 

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