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Comparison and contrast of Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff in terms of language use, loyalty, and family

Summary:

Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff differ significantly in language use, loyalty, and family values. Lady Macbeth uses manipulative and ambitious language, shows unwavering loyalty to her husband’s ambitions, and prioritizes power over family. In contrast, Lady Macduff's language reflects concern and maternal care, demonstrates loyalty to her family, and values her children and husband over personal ambition.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff share several similarities and are both portrayed as resolute, courageous women. Lady Macbeth displays her aggressive, ambitious nature by manipulating her husband to murder King Duncan, while Lady Macduff demonstrates her formidable personality by attempting to protect her son from Macbeth's murderers. Both women also find themselves in precarious situations, which are directly associated with their husbands' questionable decisions. Lady Macbeth gradually loses her mind as a result of the guilt attached to Duncan's murder and Lady Macduff is forced to defend her family because her husband left for England. Both characters also criticize their husbands' masculinity. Lady Macbeth questions her husband's masculinity when he initially refuses to follow through with the murder. Similarly, Lady Macduff criticizes her husband's masculinity for leaving them behind in a vulnerable situation.

The most notable difference between the two women concerns their moral disposition. Lady Macbeth is depicted as an immoral, cruel woman, who calls upon evil spirits to consume her soul and give her the strength to influence her husband to commit a heinous crime. In contrast, Lady Macduff is portrayed as a caring mother, who is concerned about her family's well-being and desperately attempts to protect her child. Additionally, Lady Macbeth committed suicide and deserves her fate, while Lady Macduff does not deserve to be senselessly murdered by Macbeth's agents.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

Beyond their titles and genders, Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff have very little in common. However, one thing they do share is considerable strength and fortitude. But then, as tough, independent-minded women in a male-dominated world, they have to be, whether they like it or not.

Nevertheless, Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff show their strength in different ways. Lady Macbeth does so by urging her husband on to murder King Duncan when it seems that he's getting cold feet over his part in the murder plot. For her part, Lady Macduff shows her strength by resolving to protect her family after her husband takes off down South to join with other anti-Macbeth rebels.

A further opportunity for comparing and contrasting the two women comes in their relation to what is right and wrong. Although both women are determined to do what they believe to be right, they have a radically different understanding of what's right and wrong. For Lady Macbeth—initially, at any rate—it is right to have Duncan killed. For Lady Macduff, on the other hand, it's right to do whatever she can to protect her children.

In the end, however, the strength of these women avails them nothing. Both find themselves at the mercy of events beyond their control, which leads to their untimely deaths.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

In addition to the similarities mentioned in the previous answers, I would also say that Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff's similarity lies in the fact that they are both left by their husbands. On the one hand, Lady Macbeth is not physically left by Macbeth; however, her husband is consumed by the ambition to protect his position and begins to ignore his wife. Lady Macbeth feels abandoned and is left alone to struggle with the enormous amount of guilt that eventually leads to her descent into madness and death. On the other hand, Lady Macduff is left by her husband when he leaves Scotland in order to seek Malcolm's help to overthrow Macbeth, so she remains unprotected and powerless with no one to help her and her children.

As for their differences, Lady Macbeth is a cruel, calculating woman who manipulates her husband into following through with his plan to kill Duncan, while Lady Macduff is a loving mother who is goodhearted and unlike anything that Lady Macbeth is characterized by. The two of them are total opposites. Nevertheless, the deaths of both are seen as moments of profound tragedy.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff are similar in the sense that the death of each is caused by the actions of their respective husbands. Lady Macbeth commits suicide because Macbeth has gone too far in his pursuit of power and she can no longer deal with the guilt she feels over her role in his transformation from a hero to a murdering despot. Lady Macduff has been left behind by her husband, who has fled to England to find help in his rebellion against Macbeth. Macbeth takes advantage of his absence and sends men to murder Macduff’s servants, wife, and children.

Their differences, however, are more striking. Lady Macduff did nothing to deserve her fate, while Lady Macbeth goaded and manipulated her husband into killing King Duncan. From that point forward, Macbeth was consumed with the need to protect his power and position.

It is ironic to note that Lady Macbeth’s suicidal guilt was in large part caused by Macbeth’s murder of Lady Macduff. In Act V, Scene I, as she sleepwalks and tries to clean imaginary blood from her hands, she says:

The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now?

This is a reference to Lady Macduff. It is not clear whether or not Lady Macbeth knows that Lady Macduff was killed by Macbeth, or whether she truly does not know what has happened to her.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff are similar in that they expect their husbands be protect and rule their families.  When Macbeth is considering whether or not to kill Duncan, Lady Macbeth tells him that he would be more the man if he were to go after his ambitions.  She expects that he would do whatever is necessary to advance their family's position.  Similarly, in Act 4 when Lady Macduff learns that Macduff has fled the country, she is angry with him for not staying behind to protect his family.  She thinks that he has made himself look like a traitor, and she feels that he is now worthless in his role as husband and father.  Despite these similarities, the two women are quite different in that Lady Macduff appears to have a good nature whereas Lady Macbeth exhibits a more evil, ambitious nature when plotting to kill Duncan.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

In Shakespeare's classic play Macbeth, Macduff serves as Macbeth's foil, and his contrasting qualities emphasize Macbeth's character traits. For example, Macduff is portrayed as an extremely loyal, morally upright individual, who considers it a duty and honor to serve King Duncan. In contrast, Macbeth is depicted as an ambitious, selfish man, who willingly assassinates the king in order to usurp power. Macduff is also willing to sacrifice everything to preserve and protect Scotland, while Macbeth rules as a brutal tyrant. Macbeth also relies on deception and cunning to achieve his ultimate goal, while Macduff remains honest, forthright, and genuine in order to reclaim his homeland.

Despite their differences, Macbeth and Macduff share several notable similarities. Both characters are revered members of the social elite and are respected thanes. They also share a personal relationship with King Duncan, and he views them as loyal, trustworthy subjects. Macbeth and Macduff are also destined to come into conflict with each other. When Macbeth receives the second set of prophecies from the three witches, they instruct him to beware of Macduff. At the end of the play, both men come face-to-face with each other in the final battle. Macduff informs Macbeth that he did not experience a natural birth but was "untimely ripp'd" from his mother's womb and ends up decapitating Macbeth.

One could also argue that both men are singularly focused on specific goals, which have disastrous consequences. Macbeth becomes consumed with the idea of murdering Duncan and suffers from mental anguish after assassinating the king. Similarly, Macduff becomes completely focused on preserving Scotland and flees to England, leaving his family in danger. Tragically, Macbeth's murderers slaughter Macduff's entire family, and he experiences the overwhelming guilt attached to his decision.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

Macbeth and Macduff are both Lords of Scotland, and the two do seem to parallel one another in certain respects. Macbeth emerges as one of Ducan's closest followers (in Macbeth's cast listing, he and Banquo are explicitly referred to as "Generals of the King's Army," which stresses his authority within that sphere). This relationship with Duncan, by which he is one of the King's leading commanders and most powerful supporters, is reflected in Macduff's own relationship with Duncan's son Malcolm. In addition, I would note, both Macbeth and Macduff are tied together by prophecy, with Macduff fated to kill Macbeth at the end of the play.

The critical difference, as others have already pointed out, is that Macduff is characterized as virtuous. Macbeth is driven primarily by ambition, and he is murderous in his pursuit of power. Macduff on the other hand displays loyalty, but here we should note, it is not a blind loyalty. While he is personally loyal to Malcolm, he also shows his dedication to the good of Scotland, and to the moral dictates of proper rule. We see this in the scene where Malcolm tests Macduff, by assigning himself various vices, to see how Macduff responds. In this scene, we find there are limits to what Macduff would be able to support from his chosen king. Ultimately, when it comes to questions of personal loyalty, Macduff serves the best interests of Scotland. This is in striking contrast to Macbeth, who is loyal only to himself and is driven by desire for power.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

Macbeth and Macduff are both nobles, close to and trusted by King Duncan when the play opens. However, Macduff takes pride in his position, and Macbeth is power-hungry and ambitious. When Macduff comes to awaken Duncan the morning after he is murdered, he tells Macbeth,

I'll make so bold to call,
For 'tis my limited service. (2.3.57–58)

He is desirous to do his appointed duty, to do it in a timely manner, and to do it thoughtfully. Macbeth, of course, has already murdered the king so that he can take the throne.

Macduff doesn't suspect that Macbeth will do even more dishonorable things as the play progresses, perhaps because Macduff would not do them himself. He leaves his wife and children in Scotland while he goes to England to rally Malcolm, the rightful Scots heir, not thinking that they are in any danger. However, though Macbeth believes he cannot be harmed by any man born of woman, he decides to murder Lady Macduff and her innocent children just to send a message to Macduff, who left the country without Macbeth's knowledge or permission. It's a truly heinous act: one that Macduff was unlikely to predict, because he has so much more honor than Macbeth.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

Macduff is as a foil to Macbeth. Macduff is the "holy angel" as mentioned in Act 3, Scene 6. The author is presenting Macduff as the holy against the evil Macbeth.

Macduff represents goodness versus Macbeth's perversion. Macbeth realizes that Macduff has always suspected him of the murder. In fact, that is why Macduff rushes to Malcolm's side. Macduff is determined to kill Macbeth and rid Scotland of his tyranny.

Macbeth fears Macduff so he has his wife and children killed. This just gives Macduff more reason to kill Macbeth.

Truly, Macduff is a vision of goodness and integrity. Macbeth has no integrity. Macbeth is a deceptive character. Macduff is honest in all his endeavors.

Ulitmately, good overcomes evil when Macduff beheads Macbeth. Truly, Macduff celebrates because justice rids Scotland of the evil Macbeth. Malcolm can now be crowned king and restore goodness back to the throne of Scotland.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

Macbeth and Malcolm are contrasted as polar opposites in terms of leadership. Macbeth is a ruthless tyrant while Malcolm possesses all the attributes of an ideal king.

First, Malcolm is Duncan's son, and therefore he is the rightful heir to the throne. Further, Duncan has specifically named him heir. In contrast, Macbeth is an usurper who gains the throne through murder.

Malcolm refers to Macbeth as a tyrant, saying:

This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,
Was once thought honest.
Macduff confirms this, saying:
Not in the legions
Of horrid hell can come a devil more damned
In evils to top Macbeth.
Malcolm speaks of the vices that characterize a tyrant like Macbeth. These include being greedy, lecherous, dishonest, deceitful, unpredictable, and spiteful. Malcolm, testing Macduff, says he suffers from all of these vices and more. When Macduff finally recoils in horror and shows that his first loyalty is to doing what is best for Scotland, Malcolm says he was simply testing Macduff. Now that Macduff has shown he wouldn't follow a tyrant, Malcolm confesses to being a virtuous prince. He says he is a virgin, values truth above his own life, never lies, and doesn't want other people's possessions.
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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

Macbeth and Malcolm don't have that much in common, ultimately. They do both begin as nobles in the good graces of the King of Scotland, Duncan. Macbeth is, at first,  a loyal thane who gets promoted by Duncan after a successful battle in Act I (Macbeth is awarded an additional title -- Thane of Cawdor -- for his efforts and leadership). Malcolm is Duncan's oldest son and is named heir to the throne in Act I. This occurs after Macbeth has heard the prophecies saying he will be king someday and has already begun thinking about killing Duncan to get there; hearing that Malcolm will be the heir throws a kink in Macbeth's incipient plans and he begins to see Malcolm as an obstacle.

For most of the play, Macbeth and Malcolm are antagonists. Macbeth kills Duncan in Act II, and Malcolm and his brother Donalbain flee (Malcolm to England and Donalbain to Ireland) because they fear their lives will also be in danger as Duncan's heirs. For a short time, this raises suspicion in Scotland that Malcolm and Donalbain may be the murderers (their flight makes them seem suspicious). Once Malcolm and his brother have left, Macbeth is crowned king and begins what will be an increasingly corrupt and violent reign. Macbeth becomes paranoid and ruthless, even killing his own best friend (Banquo) and the innocent wife and children of his political enemy Macduff, who is in England helping Malcolm prepare to battle Macbeth. Ultimately, Macduff kills Macbeth and Malcolm is crowned King. As the play closes, the other characters are optimistic that Scotland will now return to greatness and its people will again feel safe, as Malcolm will be a much better king than Macbeth was.

Personality-wise, the two characters are very different. Macbeth is ambitious and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. While he is loyal to Duncan at the start of the play, his character quickly devolves, and he does not appear to have any moral compass. On the other hand, in Act IV, a long conversation between Malcolm and Macduff reveals that Malcolm is pure-hearted and good. Though he could stay in England and live a comfortable life, he feels it is his duty to return to his homeland and restore it to his glory. Malcolm must undergo a dangerous war against the ruthless Macbeth to achieve this. He thinks more about Scotland than about himself. Macbeth, on the other hand, seems to only want to be king for the power and has not higher moral purpose. 

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff are both strong, formidable characters. While their husbands show weakness at vital moments in the play, they stand firm and resolute, doing what they believe is right.

Of course, Lady Macbeth's understanding of what's right is radically different from Lady Macduff's. Lady Macbeth believes that murdering Duncan is right—initially, at least—whereas Lady Macduff has a much more traditional understanding of what is right and wrong. She regards it as unconscionable that her husband has abandoned his family to go off and join the anti-Macbeth rebels in England while leaving her and her children to face the wrath of an increasingly blood-thirsty tyrant.

Despite their strength of purpose and resolve, however, both Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff are unable to hold back the tide of events. Although Lady Macbeth's plan to murder Duncan unfolds as expected, her subsequent sidelining by her husband arguably precipitates a full-scale mental collapse that leads to her suicide. And Lady Macduff's firm resolve to protect her family ultimately yields nothing, and she and her children are murdered on Macbeth's orders.

Despite the strength and intelligence of Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff, both women are very much at the mercy of events.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

Lady Macduff is a character we see very little of in Shakespeare's Macbeth. In fact, she only appears once, in the scene in Act IV in which she is killed. Lady Macbeth is a much more important figure to the plot of the play and to its themes.

Lady Macbeth is a powerful woman who has influence over her husband, a noble thane and military leader, Macbeth. When he hears the prophecy that he will become king, he writes to his wife immediately. He seeks her counsel and trusts her opinion. The two plot together to kill King Duncan when he comes to stay at Macbeth's castle so that Macbeth can ascend to the throne as soon as possible. Though Macbeth has some doubts along the way, he ends up going through with the murder. His wife is the stronger character at this point in the play: she is the one who convinces him to commit the crime when he tries to back out, and she is the one who goes back to plant the daggers on the guards to frame them, since Macbeth is too nervous and horrified to return to the scene. It is Lady Macbeth who has to cover for her husband when he thinks he sees Banquo's ghost at the table during a feast at this castle to celebrate his coronation. Soon enough, though, Macbeth takes total control, becomes increasingly ruthless and paranoid, and begins to leave his wife out of his plans. She ends up going insane, sleepwalking, and trying to wash her hands of a blood spot that symbolizes her guilt. She commits suicide near the end of the play, and her death makes Macbeth soliloquize about how brief and meaningless life is.

Lady Macduff, on the other hand, is more a victim than an active player in Macbeth. She is seen conversing with her son and with another nobleman about the sudden departure of her husband Macduff, who has gone to fight with Malcolm to overthrow Macbeth. She tries to explain to her son that she thinks Macduff is a traitor for going against his king, though Ross attempts to assure her that he has his reasons. Lady Macduff tells her son that his father is dead (he is not) and dramatically asks what they will do without him. She seems to be emotional and distraught, unlike the very much in-command Lady Macbeth, at least early in the play.

As the earlier reviewer said, one similarity between the two women is that they do critique certain actions or qualities of their husbands. Lady Macduff is upset because Macduff has left the family and the castle unguarded; this turns out to be a legitimate fear when everyone in the castle is murdered by Macbeth's henchmen. Lady Macbeth worries that her husband does not have the viciousness required to kill The King and take his position. She is partially correct, as well, since at the time of the murder, Macbeth is overwhelmed and weaker than she is. Eventually though, Macbeth proves her wrong.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff are similar in that they both disapprove of their husband's behavior and believe that they lack certain instincts. While Lady Macbeth thinks that her husband lacks the naturally aggressive instincts needed to murder King Duncan, Lady Macduff believes her husband lacks the natural instincts to stay and protect his family. They also feel that their husbands have flaws which will bring ruin to their families. Lady Macbeth believes that Macbeth's lack of courage to kill and deal with the consquences of his actions will be disastrous while Lady Macduff thinks her husband's choice to flee will harm her family. Despite their similarities, both characters are drastically different. Lady Macbeth is portrayed as an evil woman who is the mastermind behind King Duncan's murder. She persuades Macbeth to commit murder then helps him disguise his evil deed. In contrast, Lady Macduff is not depicted as an evil woman. She fears for the well-being of her children and simply wishes for her husband to protect her. 

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Compare and contrast Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects about the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is how their roles reverse by the end of the play.

At the start of the play, and through the murder of King Duncan, Lady Macbeth is the one who sees violence as the answer and it is she who comes up with the murder scheme, while her husband is racked with guilt and indecision, seeing and hearing things, his mind starting to snap. She mentally bullies him into taking action and after he kills the king and comes unglued ("Macbeth hath murdered sleep!"), she contemptuously tries to assuage Macbeth's feelings of remorse, telling him to essentially not think about it so much.

However, once Macbeth assumes power as king and starts to see the success his actions bring, he begins plotting murder (against Banquo's and Macduff's family) without consulting with Lady Macbeth at all, and by the final act of the play Lady Macbeth is the one who is walking in a daze, seeing visions, and racked with guilt.

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Compare and contrast Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Brand and Brittany,

As a starting point in comparing Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, look closely at Macbeth's soliloquy in Act I. vii. Macbeth thinks about the murder and begins to think about justice, morality, the good of Scotland, and the after-life. Macbeth is just about resolved to not murder Duncan when Lady Macbeth interrupts his decision.

Lady Macbeth recognizes Macbeth's hesitancy, so she plays upon his weaknesses. Macbeth, we learn, is not as self-confident as one may initially believe. He is a good man but impressionable. Lady Macbeth knows exactly what she wants and to get it.

Because of her gender and station in life, Lady Macbeth must live vicariously through her husband's success.

I hope this answer helps.

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What are the main differences between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?

To determine the differences between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, it is necessary to observe them at various points in the play.

At the beginning, both are ambitious, but it is Lady Macbeth who is willing to achieve their goal through any means. She is prepared to murder the king just to obtain the throne faster. Upon learning of the witches’ statements, Lady Macbeth immediately thinks of how she can speed up events, and she calls upon dark forces to give her the courage to follow through. She shrewdly comes up with a plan and uses all of her powers of argument to convince Macbeth of its efficacy.

By contrast, Macbeth is willing to wait for what he wants. He is excited by the prospect of becoming king, but his morality stops him from immediately pursuing it. It takes some convincing from his wife to goad him into accepting the evil job of murder, but even then he wrestles with his conscience. Although he knows it’s wrong, he ultimately follows through because he really wants the throne and because his wife is so adamant. Yet, his conscience is still there afterward, when he bungles part of the plan and struggles with sleep.

Soon after, Macbeth begins to shed what’s left of his integrity and orders the deaths of others—Banquo, Fleance, Macduff. While he is plagued by Banquo’s ghost, it is a temporary attack of conscience which he eventually pushes away and replaces with ruthlessness and deception. Gone are the scruples he once lived by. He no longer confides in Lady Macbeth or needs her to guide him, and he is only interested in maintaining his grip on the throne.

Lady Macbeth changes as well; she now exhibits the conscience that she so cruelly pushed aside earlier on. Unable to handle the truth, she commits suicide.

Finally, Macbeth displays slight humanity in the middle of his heartlessness when he first demands that his wife be cured and then mourns her death. He reflects upon how transient life is but then returns to his brutal quest to protect himself. By the end, his only intention is to die fighting.

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What are the main differences between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?

Ambition is certainly the main similarity between Macbeth and his wife, but that seems to be the only thread that keeps them together.

Macbeth, like Hamlet, is a man of contemplation and reaction. Once he learns of the witches prophecy, he does not immediately believe that he must act in order to see it come true. Lady Macbeth, unlike Macbeth, is a very proactive and scheming character who instantly comes to the conclusion that King Duncan must be killed in order to see Macbeth take the throne. Lady Macbeth is also very manipulative and far more intelligent than her husband. She is not so superstitious and works to achieve her dreams rather than leave them up to the whims of Fate.

Once Duncan has been killed, however, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth begin to swap places with the other. In planning Banquo's murder, Macbeth has become the manipulative, cold-hearted killer that his wife was in the beginning. Loosing herself in her guilt, Lady Macbeth becomes the quivering, introverted and helpless character that her husband was in the beginning.

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What are the main differences between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?

Both of the Macbeths are ambitious, but Lady Macbeth lacks the strength to deal with all the consequences of her ambition.  In Act 1, sc. 5, when Lady Macbeth reads her husbands incredulous letter about the witches and their prophecies, she immediately knows that she wants to kill Duncan.  She doubts, however, that her husband has the drive to do the deed.  She goads him into killing Duncan by telling him he's not a man in her eyes unless he does this act.  She knows her husband wants to please her she uses that against him.  Macbeth never does anything like that to Lady Macbeth, however.  In fact, he shields her by not telling her, even, of his intent to have Banquo killed, Act 3, sc. 2.  By the beginning of Act 5, Lady Macbeth has gone mad from guilt and in Act 5, sc. 5, she dies, presumably by suicide.  She did not have the strength that she doubted her husband possessed earlier.  Macbeth, on the other hand, has become determined to ride out the consequences to their natural conclusion.  In the last act, Macbeth is seen as a tyrant, but a valiant tyrant who has not given up the fight.  In the last scene of the play when Macbeth and Macduff meet up again, Macbeth says he does not want to fight Macduff because he's killed enough of his family already.  When Macduff tells Macbeth of his birth and Macbeth knows he was tricked by the witches, he still does not give up the fight.  He is stronger than his wife.

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What are the main differences between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?

Both characters are ambitious.  However, in the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth is the one in control.  She plans out the murder of King Duncan.  She questions Macbeth's manhood when he points out all the reasons not to kill the King.  She pushes him to become the murderer he becomes.  Then after the murder of Duncan, he shows guilt for his crime.  It is Lady Macbeth who takes control once again.  She takes the bloody daggers from him and places them by the dead guards--to set them up as the killers.

From this point on, Macbeth slowly takes control of his actions.  He plans out the murder of both Banquo and attempts to have Fleance killed as well.  This is done without Lady Macbeth's knowledge.  She no longer takes part in the killings or even the plans of killing.  Macbeth turns into the monster who stoops to kill Macduff's wife and children.  Lady Macbeth by this point has become so ridden with guilt that she sleepwalks nightly and eventually dies from the guilt.  Their roles have been reversed, and she becomes the "weakling" while he becomes the savage monster who will do anything to become and remain the king.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

Elizabeth I is one of three female monarchs who have ruled longer than any male monarch in England's long history.

Elizabeth was bright, with a disposition like her father's. While the rest of Europe considered Elizabeth illegitimate and wondered if Henry was really her father, Henry always acknowledged Elizabeth as his child.

Upon his death, Elizabeth was imprisoned by her half-sister Mary. Elizabeth realized quickly that she needed her wits about her to avoid being embroiled in political intrigue. She was very good at this.

When Mary came to the throne, as a staunch supporter of Catholicism, she killed hundreds of Protestants, and earned the name of Bloody Mary. (England was happy when Mary died, mostly for this reason.)

Mary did not like Elizabeth (a Protestant), nor did she trust her, but she couldn't kill the princess (who had many followers), so she kept Elizabeth as a prisoner for several years. When Elizabeth was twenty-five, Mary died, and Elizabeth became Queen.

Elizabeth spent the remainder of her life ruling the English throne like her father. She was unmarried, but encouraged proposals from several countries, even Spain. (Mary had been married to Philip of Spain.) Because of years of fighting between the royal houses, the Tudors were almost bankrupt. So Elizabeth welcomed her suitors' expensive gifts for the treasury. Though Elizabeth did not encourage Francis Drake's attack of Spanish ships returning with treasure from the New World, she happily took it.

Elizabeth steered a more tolerant course between the Protestants and Catholics, and she was a formidable ruler. When Essex, a favorite, tried to take the throne, sad and disappointed, she had him killed. With proof that Mary, Queen of Scots supported Elizabeth's murder, the Queen had to executed her also. To bring peace and growth to England, Elizabeth welcomed the "rebirth" of the arts, called the English Renaissance. Elizabeth was a woman of courage and intelligence.

Lady Macbeth, in Shakespeare's Macbeth, is also a strong and intelligent woman. She is bold, as was Elizabeth, but she has no honor, and plans to be queen with the murder of her King. Macbeth says that she is so harsh, that she should only give birth to boys.

MACBETH:

Bring forth men-children only,

For thy undaunted mettle should compose

Nothing but males. (I.vi.81-83)

Lady Macbeth even calls on the powers of darkness to take away anything "soft and womanly" about her so that she can do what must be done to murder the King.

LADY MACBETH:

… Come, you spirits

That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here

And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full

Of direst cruelty!… (I.v.41-44)

After Duncan's murder, Lady Macbeth comfort Macbeth, so he need not feel guilty:

LADY MACBETH:

My hands are of your color, but I shame

To wear a heart so white…

A little water clears us of this deed:

How easy is it then! (II.ii.80-86)

Both women are strong. They speak up and are wise in dealing with the path to power and success. However, Lady Macbeth is evil: achieving her ends with murder, while Elizabeth used intelligence and strategy to get things done. Elizabeth refused to lie to Mary in order to be released from imprisonment. Lady Macbeth smoothly lies to Duncan when he comes to Macbeth's castle, even while she plans his murder. Elizabeth I and Lady Macbeth may be strong women, but Elizabeth I had integrity. Lady Macbeth is not noble: she will take whatever shortcuts are needed for her own gain.

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Analyze and compare the personalities of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

One basis of comparison between Macbeth and his wife in Shakespeare's Macbeth is the way in which they switch or reverse roles in the drama.

Before and immediately after the assassination of Duncan (Act 1.5, Act 1.7, Act 2.1 and Act 2.2) Macbeth is squeamish about doing the deed and Lady Macbeth is all for it.  Macbeth feels guilt and is obsessed with Duncan's blood on his hands (literally and figuratively), while Lady Macbeth plans the murder and manipulates her husband into going through with it.

Later, however, the roles reverse.  Macbeth plans the murders of Banquo and Fleance (Act 3.1) and of Macduff's family (Act 4.1 and 2) with apparently no second thoughts whatsoever, while Lady Macbeth suffers from guilt and insanity, and becomes obsessed with Duncan's blood on her hands (in her imagination and figuratively) (Act 5.1). 

Of course, the roles each plays during and immediately after the assassination of Duncan represent a reversal of gender roles:  Macbeth demonstrates personality traits more commonly associated with females, and Lady Macbeth demonstrates personality traits more commonly associated with males.  Later, when the roles become more of what one might expect from a man and a woman, Macbeth becomes a murderous tyrant, and Lady Macbeth becomes a sleep-walking suicide. 

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

What is key to focus on in the development of the relationship of these two characters is the way that at the beginning of the play it is Lady Macbeth who is the main driving force behind the crime of regicide and Macbeth's ambition. As Act I makes perfectly clear, although Macbeth himself receives the prophecy of his future greatness, it is only thanks to the encouragement and berating of Lady Macbeth that he actually goes through with the plan and kills Duncan. In fact, in Act I scene 7, after a lengthy soliloquy, Macbeth actually resolves to not carry out the murder out of fear of the possible consequences. Lady Macbeth responds to this caution in many different ways, using open verbal attack, mocking his character and then moving on to encouraging him about the surety of their success:

We fail!

But screw your courage to the sticking-place

And we'll not fail.

In Act II scene 2, when Macbeth enters having killed Duncan, Lady Macbeth insults him for being unable to smear the grooms with blood, saying to him "Infirm of purpose!" Thus, at the beginning of the play at least, it is clear that Lady Macbeth is the more dominant member of the marriage and it is she that coaxes and urges her husband on to pursuing the prophecy he is given.

However, later on, it is clear that the positions reverse in this marriage. With the murder of Banquo, which Macbeth organises by himself without reference to his wife, things begin to shift, and Lady Macbeth retreats into the background of the play whilst Macbeth shows he is left to pursue his evil crimes and atrocities alone as he gradually works up from organising the death of Banquo in secret to committing open atrocities, such as the murder of Macduff's family. Lady Macbeth is left as a figure haunted by her crimes who dies as a result.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

As with all of Shakespeare's tragedies, the person, or persons, in power, or who live a high lifestyle of valor and prestige, fall. Lord and Lady Macbeth start out as noble people but are swept away by their own greed for power and title. Not only are they greedy, but they travel down a road that leads to deceit, conspiracy, and murder. Then they both fall into what we might call mental illnesses today through all of the sleepwalking adventures that Lady Macbeth goes on (because of her feelings of guilt) and when Macbeth starts to see Banquo's ghost. You can also look at the pair as one character. A spouse is sometimes considred one's "better half," right? Look at how one spouse affects the other in the Macbeth. Macbeth doesn't have a strong enough spine to tell his wife to be quiet and Lady Macbeth doesn't have any faith in her husband to let him alone long enough to be a good man.

There are also some other helpful insights with the links below that go into greater detail on the both subjects.  The links analyze each character in more detail. 

TIP: If your exam is in essay format, find two or three examples from the text that you could refer to for whichever one you are going to discuss. Make each example one paragraph if you are required to write a one page paper. Or, make each example just a couple of sentences long in description if it is for short-answer/paragraph form answers. 

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are both ambitious, but Lady Macbeth has more drive and her husband has more paranoia. 

Lady Macbeth is convinced that her husband just does not have the ability to get things done. He is too nice!

Yet do I fear thy nature;

It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness(15)

To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great;

Art not without ambition, but without

The illness should attend it. (Act 1, Scene 5)

She is right about that.  Macbeth does have ambition.  When the witches tell him that he is going to be king, he pretends to laugh it off but really just becomes obsessed.  When he learns that Duncan did not name him successor, he gets really annoyed and his ambition rises to the surface.

Stars, hide your fires;

Let not light see my black and deep desires:

The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be

Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see. (Act 1, Scene 4)

Lady Macbeth is also right about the fact that Macbeth does not have the “illness” to attend to ambition.  He is not crazy enough to try to get things done even if he wants them to get done.  As a result, he manages to talk himself out of killing Duncan until the vision of a bloody dagger talks him in.

It is mainly because his wife concocted such a careful plan and made sure he followed it to the letter that Macbeth was able to kill Duncan.  He did not stop there though.  It turns out that Lady Macbeth had created a monster.  She did not know what to do, because once he started killing he did not seem to stop.  Macbeth's bloodlust, paranoia, and momentum kept him killing until Macduff finally took him out.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare and contrast in Macbeth?

This married couple seems to represent opposite ends of the personality spectrum both at the beginning and the end of the play.  Macbeth first appears as a loyal and brave supporter of his country and king.  While he is savage on the battlefield, he is less capable of conceiving the murder of his cousin and king and is stricken with fear and guilt after he does so.  On the contrary, Lady Macbeth is first presented as vicious, conniving and manipulative.  She browbeats her husband into committing the murders and feels little guilt or shame immediately after the crime.

After the murder, things begin to change a bit.  Macbeth becomes more and more ruthless while his wife begins to feel the effects of repressed guilt.  He loses his ability to fear or even feel, even after her suicide.  As indicated, her guilt leads her to end her own life, after a bout with sleepwalking and quiet confession.

It is almost as if Lady Macbeth and Macbeth switch positions entirely from the beginning of the play to the end.

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How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare in language use, loyalty, and family?

First, Lady Macbeth shows herself to be sneaky and manipulative in her use of language. When she first learns of Macbeth's conversation with the Weird Sisters, she resolves to do and be whatever is necessary to bring about their promise. Therefore, her first words to her husband are flattering: "Great Glamis! Worthy Cawdor!" In contrast, Lady MacDuff, in the little stage time she is given, seems to lack guile. She honestly portrays her feelings, bluntly telling her son that his father is a traitor.

Additionally, Lady MacDuff differs from Lady Macbeth in that she is depicted with her son, and much of her time on stage is spent interacting with her son. The audience is therefore allowed to see her as a motherly person. In contrast, Lady Macbeth is never seen in a motherly context. Although she claims that she has nursed infants, there is no evidence that she has any children at all. Additionally, she claims that she would be willing to kill an infant while in the process of nursing if it would help her to accomplish her ends. She is not motherly at all.

However, Lady Macbeth does distinguish herself in her loyalty to her husband. She claims that all of the dark deeds that she commits throughout the play are for the sake of his advancement--she goes so far as to ruin her own sanity for his sake. Lady MacDuff is a little more complicated. She severely criticizes her husband for fleeing to England and leaving his family. On the other hand, she tells the murderers, when they arrive, that she hopes that he is "in no place so unsanctified where such as thou mayst find him." Clearly, she bears him no really ill will.

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