Which character's decline is more dramatic in Macbeth: Lady Macbeth, or Macbeth himself?

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All would agree that selfish ambition leads Lady Macbeth and her husband to their bloody deaths, but the question of whose end is more dramatic is trickier to answer.

On one side, we have Macbeth 's fall. The drama is an icy plunge. All in a few minutes his men...

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All would agree that selfish ambition leads Lady Macbeth and her husband to their bloody deaths, but the question of whose end is more dramatic is trickier to answer.

On one side, we have Macbeth's fall. The drama is an icy plunge. All in a few minutes his men abandon him, his wife commits suicide, and finally the witches' prophecy of Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane is fulfilled--and he realizes the end is near. He loses all of the ambition that got him to this point as well as his hope for the future.

 "Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" (Act 5, Scene 5).

As Macbeth is cast into deep, dark despair, so is the audience. This is a masterful piece of literature wherein the drama falls quickly and sharply. Macbeth is trapped on all sides in the space of a few minutes.

On the other side, though, we have the haunting fall of Lady Macbeth. It is quite a different sort of drama--an eerie, slow, downward spiral. Instead of a quick series of shocking disappointments, the audience experiences a creeping darkness, starting with Lady Macbeth's first foreboding speech and ending with her haunting sleep-walking scene.

"Here's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!" (Act 5 Scene 1).

The shock of her suicide in Act 5, Scene 5 completes her tragic tale, making her a vivid and memorable character, maybe more memorable than the protagonist--her husband.

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