In Macbeth, why doesn't Lady Macbeth trust Macbeth to carry out the plot against the king?

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William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Shakespeare seems to have wanted Macbeth to be somewhat sympathetic rather than an out-and-out villain like his Richard III or his Iago. It is clear to the audience that Macbeth does not really want to murder Duncan but is being forced into it by supernatural circumstances and influenced by others, especially his own wife. Fate seems to have brought Duncan to Macbeth's castle for the first and possibly the only time. Shakespeare makes a point of showing that Duncan has never been there before when Duncan says: "This castle hath a pleasant seat. The air / Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself / Unto our...

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mar55060 | Student

Macbeth is a tragic hero because he is consumed by ambition and spurred into committing murder by Lady Macbeth.  After he kills the king, Macbeth is wracked by guilt and paranoia.  He is forced to continue committing murders to protect himself from suspicion.  Each murder drives him deeper into madness.  Macbeth becomes convinced that he will not be beaten when the witches tell him, "none  of woman born shall harm Macbeth".  When he hears, "Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill shall come against him", Macbeth is convinced he is invincible.He believes neither of these things is possible.  With each ensuing murder that he commits,  Macbeth spirals down toward madness and finally death.

mar55060 | Student

In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth does not trust Macbeth to carry out the plot against the king because she thinks he is too weak and conscientious to commit murder.  She knows he has ambition to become king, but he lacks a murderous conscience to kill the king.  When she hears the witches predictions, she spurs him toward action.  In the predictions of the witches, Lady Macbeth sees a chance to advance Macbeth's career.  When Macbeth changes his mind about murdering the king, Lady Macbeth challenges his indecisiveness by questioning his courage and manhood.  Lady Macbeth plans to murder the king, but his resemblance to her sleeping father prevents her.