To what extent does Macbeth influence Lady Macbeth into coming up with the plan to murder Duncan?In Macbeth's letter to his wife, he writes "...of what is promised thee" (reffering) to the throne....

To what extent does Macbeth influence Lady Macbeth into coming up with the plan to murder Duncan?

In Macbeth's letter to his wife, he writes "...of what is promised thee" (reffering) to the throne. Simillarly, Lady Macbeth tells him "What cannot you and I perform upon/Th’unguarded Duncan?”. Is Lady Macbeth's concious suggestion of murdering the king her own idea or has Macbeth unwittingly influenced it by promising her the throne? Or do you think that it is neither and down to the witches or fate or a latent desire in Macbeth etc?

Asked on by zahoa001

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would argue that Macbeth is already considering killing Duncan before he goes to see Lady Macbeth.  He sent his letter telling her what the witches told him as a kind of confirmation. 

Consider Macbeth’s reaction to finding out Duncan did not name him his successor.  He gets very frustrated, and says that it is a “is a step/ On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap” because it is in his way.

Stars, hide your fires;

Let not light see my black and deep desires:

The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be

Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.(60) (Act 1, Scene 5, p. 18)

This aside takes place in Act 1, before Macbeth goes home to talk to his wife.  Lady Macbeth definitely spurs him on though, because he later wonders if killing Duncan is the right choice and she talks him into it.

See here for the quote

Summary

Character Analysis

zahoa001's profile pic

zahoa001 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted on

I agree, I think my description of what it is I am proposing is a little sketchy. In my mind, the Witches provide Macbeth with the prophecy that he will be king, Macbeth then considers killing Duncan but decides not to and allow fate to crown him; 

If chance will have me King, why, Chance

may crown me... (144) Act 1, Sc 3.

And, upon reading his letter, Lady Macbeth comes up with the plan to kill the king. I think she extends Macbeths thoughts into a tangible possibility here;

...Come, thick Night,

And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of Hell

That my keen knife see not the wound it makes... (52) Act 1, Sc 5

The aim of this discussion was to see if anyone agreed that it is possible that Macbeth influenced Lady Macbeth into coming up with the plan to murder the king (rather than Macbeth just toying with the idea). 

I think it is interesting that we do not see Lady Macbeth prior to receiving the letter.Maybe she was not the evil, manipulative, femme fatale that we see. I think she may have been turned into that by Macbeth's promise that she will be his queen. Maybe she feels fate owes her that? We never see the mother that has lost her children which is hinted at later in the play. 

What do you think? Has Macbeth influenced her or vice versa?

 

 

 

 

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