What kind of concept of love is depicted in Macbeth?

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gpane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the major portrayals of love in this play is the marital bond between Macbeth and his wife. To begin with they are actually seen to be quite close, with Lady Macbeth eager to share in her husband's triumphs. In the letter which he sends her, which she reads in Act V, scene 1, he addresses her as his 'dearest partner of greatness' (line 12). They work very closely together to achieve his ambition to become king but of course, this involves murder, and it is after the murder of Duncan that they begin to drift apart, to the extent that he barely reacts to the news of her suicide at the end.

The Macbeths' love takes on unnatural aspects, which is in keeping with the overall dark atmosphere of the play. They work and plan together, at least to begin with, but to evil ends. Love generally plays a limited role in the play, its positive qualities certainly appear to be largely absent. 

lolaleon | Student

Thank you for your answer, I had a similar interpretation in mind.

I was thinking their love is more of an embodiment of the power relations. For Macbeth, love is based on virtue and attachment, he sees it as a commitment that requires loyalty. He is very much capable of loving and sees his wife as an equal partner.

Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, denotes a self-centered kind of love. She is more ambitious for power than Macbeth and uses love as means to achieve that power.

There are also hints in the play of a motherly kind of love. She speaks of giving suck to a child and also mentions how tender it is to love a child that is feeding from her. This indicates the possibility that Lady Macbeth might have mothered a child before, but lost it.

This unconditional mother-child love is then perverted when she infantilizes Macbeth and drives his ambition to the point where he becomes a brutal tyrant. Ambition leads to the deterioration of both characters and also the collapse of their marriage.

So, love is redefined in terms of ambition, this perception of love is dynamic, which evolves to love as complete obedience and as a destructive force, which leads to demise of both husband and wife.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.