What does Lady Macbeth share in the first part of her soliloquy in Act 1, Scene 5 of Macbeth? What purpose does this serve?
Lady Macbeth shares that she feels she is more ambitious than her husband.
After hearing the witches’ prophecies, Macbeth writes a letter to Lady Macbeth.
Whiles I stood rapt in
the wonder of it, came missives from the king, who
all-hailed me 'Thane of Cawdor;' by which title,
before, these weird sisters saluted me, and referred
me to the coming on of time, with 'Hail, king that
shalt be!' … (Act 1, Scene 5)
The witches have told Macbeth that he will be Thane of Cawdor, and then king. She is thrilled with the idea of her husband’s prophecies coming true. However, she fears that Macbeth will not be ambitious enough to make this come to reality.
Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be
What thou art promised: yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full o' the milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great;
Art not without ambition, but without
The illness should attend it … (Act 1, Scene 5)
Basically, Lady Macbeth thinks her husband doesn’t have the guts to kill Duncan. He is just too nice a person. So while Macbeth is thrilled with this news, and gladly shares it with his wife, she fears that nothing will come of it.
Lady Macbeth was right. Despite Macbeth’s show of ambition when passed over as Duncan’s heir, he loses his nerve when it comes down to it. He can think of all kinds of reasons why he should not kill the king, and is worried about the consequences. His wife won’t hear of it. She plans the whole murder herself and makes sure he carries it out.