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At the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth is depicted as a callous, determined woman who criticizes her husband's masculinity and convinces him to assassinate King Duncan. Despite her resolute, bold demeanor, Shakespeare foreshadows Lady Macbeth's growing sensitivity and vulnerability when she remarks that she could not murder the king herself because Duncan reminds her of her father. As the play progresses, Macbeth becomes increasingly distant from his wife and is no longer her close, beloved partner in crime. Macbeth's aloofness is depicted when he refuses to inform Lady Macbeth that he has planned Banquo and Fleance's murders, which reveals that he is working independently of his wife and is no longer her trusted companion.

The most prominent example of foreshadowing Lady Macbeth's death takes place in act 5, scene 1. In this scene, the Doctor and Gentlewoman witness Lady Macbeth sleepwalking and hallucinating at night. As Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking, she demonstrates her tortured soul by imagining that she is washing her hands and saying,

"Out, damned spot! Out, I say!—One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky!" (Shakespeare, 5.1.25-26).

Lady Macbeth's actions and comments not only highlight her mental instability and overwhelming guilt but also foreshadow her destination in the afterlife. At this point in the play, Lady Macbeth is no longer the resolute, bold woman she once was and has completely lost hope in a better future, saying,

"What’s done cannot be undone" (Shakespeare, 2.2.47).

Lady Macbeth's mental anguish foreshadows her decision to commit suicide later in the play. In act 5, scene 5, Seyton informs Macbeth that his wife is dead, and Macbeth offers a moving soliloquy regarding the absurdity of life. In the final scene, Malcolm mentions that he received word of Lady Macbeth's suicide. Overall, Shakespeare foreshadows Lady Macbeth's death by illustrating her growing sensitivity, emphasizing her loneliness, and depicting her mental anguish, which motivates her to commit suicide.

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Throughout Macbeth, sleep is used as a metaphor for death. For example, in act 2, scene 2, Macbeth refers to it as "the death of each day's life." When Lady Macbeth starts sleepwalking, then, it can be seen as an ominous foreshadowing of her own death. As she sleepwalks, she is halfway between life and death: she is in the mortal world but not quite of it. With each step she takes, Lady Macbeth has one foot in this world and one in the next.

As the invading army approaches Dunsinane, Lady Macbeth's days as queen are numbered. Even if she physically survives the ensuing conflict, she will lose her power and position, which, to someone as ambitious as Lady Macbeth, would be a kind of death. In her famous sleepwalking scene, Lady Macbeth, though rapidly descending into madness, does still appear to enjoy a brief moment of clarity when she senses her ultimate destination:

Out, damned spot! Out, I say!—One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky! (act 5, scene 1).

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We see Lady Macbeth as the controlling force behind Macbeth’s evil deeds and, at first, she is painted as heartless, ruthless and consumed by her ambitions for her husband. She

set the time and the place of Duncan's murder, claims that she would kill a baby at her breast to honor a vow, and argues that when Macbeth first conceived of killing Duncan, then he was a man.

However, we are first alerted to her weaknesses when, thinking it would be preferable to murder Duncan herself, she cannot due to his likeness with her own father.

            …Had he not resembled

            My father as he slept, I had done’t

Hence, we begin to prepare for a different outcome other than we would previously have believed possible. There is an evolving "human" side to her that seems to be foreshadowing how she will suffer from her guilt as time progresses.

Whilst Lady Macbeth is certainly the catalyst by which Macbeth becomes capable of such heinous deeds, we are beginning to recognize Macbeth’s own contribution to his inevitable downfall. Lady Macbeth will almost become an outsider as Macbeth grows in confidence with each murder. During his plans to kill Banquo, he tells his wife to

              be innocent of the knowledge

Lady Macbeth can even see the evil - that will ultimately drive her paranoid - self mad:

Tis safer to be that which we destroy

Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.(III,ii,6-7)

Interestingly, Lady Macbeth goes from

what's done is done


What's done cannot be undone (V.i.68)

again foreshadowing what is by now close at hand as she sleepwalks, racked by her guilt.

 Out damned spot!(V.i.33)

By now Lady Macbeth craves peace and her efforts to ‘wash away’ her sins prove fruitless. Madness is her only respite:

She is unable to release herself from the murderous world she has created and her suicide becomes inevitable as the only ‘escape.’

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