What are your impressions of Macbeth and his wife?From Act I.

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Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm assuming this is a question from your teacher that you're supposed to answer, and of course I can't answer about your impressions.  I can give you some specifics concerning the issues involved in answering your question that emerge in Act I of Shakespeare's Macbeth

Your impressions of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth could start with their relationship.  Do you see them as truly in love, or are they using each other?  Many productions present the two as affectionate and loving, but evidence exists for both interpretations.  What do you think?

In Act I, who, as they say, "Wears the pants in the family"?  Who is really in charge?  That's another aspect of their relationship that you can have an impression of.

Macbeth says that he is controlled by "vaulting ambition."  Yet, he decides not to assassinate Duncan, only to then allow himself to be talked into it by his wife.  Is he really that ambitious, then?  What is your impression?

Finally, Lady Macbeth begs to be unsexed, to be made more like a man.  By the close of Act I, is she?  And is her husband as bad at acting like a man (in her stereotypical view of what a man should be) as she thinks he is?

As a bonus, if you want to deal with one of the finer points in Act I, you could look at Macbeth's speech in scene seven, in which he complains that he lives in a society that teaches and promotes violence (I'm paraphrasing), but if he uses violence as he has been taught to do to claim the throne, he will be punished for it.  Legal consequences for his actions provide one of the reasons he decides at that point not to assassinate Duncan.  Is Macbeth's logic sound, here?  And what does this reasoning reveal about Macbeth?