What does Lady Macbeth mean when she says "our desire is got without content?

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bmadnick eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Lady Macbeth speaks this line in Act III, Scene 2, line 5. Prior to this, she asks a servant to tell Macbeth she needs to speak with him. The lines reflect her thoughts before Macbeth enters. Lines 4 -7 are:

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.

Lady Macbeth feels that nothing has really been gained by killing

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cmaloney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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revolution | Student

This quote came from Act 2 when Lady Macbeth was revealing her thoughts to the audience when she asked a servant to inform Macbeth that she was waiting to talk to him:

Naught's had, all's spent, Where our desire is got without content."

She was trying to say that she got her desire- to make Macbeth King over the whole empire, but she was still unsatisfied and discontented with the outcome. The deeper meaning is that if her desires were obtained without happiness, then everything would be lost forever. She felt that their achievement and success would come for nothing. Also, she was not "content", as she ultimately have to pay for her crime and everything that she did would be useless.

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readingbooks17 | Student

I believe that Lady Macbeth is saying that while you may get what you want (desire) you are still without satisfaction or contentment. This is at a point in the play where Lady Macbeth and Macbeth discuss the problems they are having even though they have achieved what they wanted.

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