Act I, Scene 7
Analyse Lady Macbeths strategy when she tries to overcome her husbands scruples about killing the king (ll. 35-45 and 47-59)
(1) What arguments does she use ?
(2) Point out and explain some of the rhetorical devices she uses to counteract the milk of human kindness within him.
(3) How effective are they ?
(4) Evaluate Lady Macbeths strategy from the human angle.
In the seventh scene of act one Macbeth has left the banquet, and expresses his doubts about murdering Duncan in a monologue. Lady Macbeth comes in, and argues with Macbeth, until she manages to convince him, that he has to murder Duncan.
To do that Lady Macbeth uses mainly two arguments.
Letting I dare not wait upon I would like the poor cat i the adage (lines 43-44). Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth here that he shouldnt let his chance slip away. Now Duncan is in his castle, now Macbeth can murder him, and now Macbeth can become king. If he waits the chance is gone, and Macbeth never will have a chance to become king, as Duncan already announced, that his son Malcolm will take over the kingdom when Duncan retires. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth that he shouldnt have doubts about killing Duncan, as he would regret it afterwards. The feelings Macbeth has are, according to Lady Macbeth, normal, but they shouldnt stop him from acting. There are always consequences (wet paws) if somebody is killed, but the outcome of the murder is reducing the consequences to virtually nothing: Like the poor cat i adage Malcolm should try to catch the fish (his chance) even though his paws will become wet (there will be consequences).
(…), and know how tender t is to love the baby that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, and have dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done this (lines 54 – 59). Lady Macbeth claims that she would do the most terrible thing she can imagine, she would kill her own child if necessary. She expects Macbeth to now do the worst thing to him, to kill his King Duncan, as it is, according to her, necessary. In fact the comparison Lady Macbeth uses is drawing a very good picture of the situation – Duncan is feeling protected in Macbeths castle (just like a baby does in its mothers arms) and speaks very well about him (smiles at Macbeth). Macbeth plans to murder Duncan, who is as unsuspecting about that, as a baby wouldnt expect his mother to kill him.
The only thing Lady Macbeth says here that doesnt fit is had I so sworn as you have done this Macbeth never has sworn to murder Duncan, or even really spoke out to her that he is thinking about murdering Duncan. That shows how Lady Macbeth tries to convince Macbeth that he has to murder Duncan here – she makes him believe that he actually HAS sworn that hell murder Duncan, by mentioning that after telling him that she has no doubts about it. He doesnt even notice that, but his sub consciousness accepts as a fact, that he HAS sworn it.
Another rhetorical device Lady Macbeth uses is that of a rhetorical question: Art thou afeared to be the same in thine own act and valour, as thou art in desire ? (lines 39-41). Everybody KNOWS that your wishes most of the times have to differ from the way you act. Lady Macbeth nonetheless makes Macbeth by that question believe, that he has to act according to his wishes, no matter if that hurts other people.
She taunts him and his honours, which forces Macbeth to respond to to act in order not to look like a coward, to defend himself: And wakes it the hope now, to look so green and pale at what it did so freely ? (…) and live a coward in thine own esteem (lines 36 – 43);
She, as well, attacks his manhood: When you durst do it the murder, then you were a man (line 49). He was a man as he had had the thought of murdering Duncan and would be even more to her, if he would actually do it. On the one hand she appeals to his ambition here, on the other hand she uses her main rhetorical device, and the one that finally gets Macbeth to do what she wants him to: She uses her womans weapons.
This gets extremely clear in lines 47-58. Lady Macbeth indicates Macbeth by using the formal you that she will keep away from him, if he wont murder Duncan. Macbeth is too much in love with her to defend himself against that, and just (unconsciously ?) puts his doubts aside.
Lady Macbeth clearly uses Macbeth (even if she loves him) to become queen, and to make him king. She is an absolutely ambitious woman, and tries to reach the thing she wants without caring what it might cost. She is a person walking over corpses if there isnt any other way, she appears to be a person without any doubts here.
Supernatural Forces in Macbeth
In the play Macbeth, there were many interesting sections which could be concentrated on due to the suspense and the involvement of the supernatural. The use of the supernatural in the witches, the visions, the ghost, and the apparitions is a key element in making the concept of the play work and in making the play interesting. Looking through each Act and Scene of the play, it is noticed that the supernatural is definitely a major factor on the plays style.The use of the supernatural occurs at the beginning of the play, with three witches predicting the fate of Macbeth. This gives the audience a clue to what the future holds for Macbeth. When the battles lost and won (Act I, Scene I, l.4) was said by the second witch. It says that every battle is lost by one side and won by another. Macbeths fate is that he will win the battle, but will lose his time of victory for the battle of his soul.After the prophecies of the witches revealed the fate of Macbeth, the plan in which to gain power of the throne is brought up. The only way to gain power of the throne was for Macbeth to work his way to the throne, or to murder King Duncan. Murdering the king was an easier plan since the motivation in his dreams urged him on. Lady Macbeth also relied on the supernatural by her soliloquy of calling upon the evil spirits to give her the power to plot the murder of Duncan without any remorse or conscience (Act I, Scene V, ll.42-57. The three sisters are capable of leading people into danger resulting in death, such as the sailor who never slept (Act I, Scene III, ll.1-37).Lady Macbeth has convinced her husband Macbeth to murder King Duncan. On the night they planned to kill Duncan, Macbeth is waiting for Lady Macbeth to ring the signal bell to go up the stairs to Duncans chamber. He sees the vision of the floating dagger. The interest of the dagger is that it leads Macbeth towards the chamber by the presence of evil of the dagger being covered with blood. Then the bell rings and Macbeth stealthily proceeds up the staircase to Duncans chamber.Once the murder has been committed, eventually Banquo has hissuspicions about Macbeth killing Duncan to have power of the throne. There is constantly more guilt and fear inside Macbeth and his wife that they decide to have Banquo killed. Macbeth and his wife attend a banquet in which a ghost appears. Once the murderer notified Macbeth that the deed was done, he observed the ghost of Banquo sitting in his regular seat. This caused Macbeth to act in a wild manner, making people suspicious of his actions. (Act III, Scene VI, ll.31-120). The use of the supernatural has increased the suspense now that Macbeth is constantly relying on the prophecies of the three witches. Hecate, the Queen of witches is angry with the three sisters for not involving her in their encounters with Macbeth. The witches plan to lead Macbeth to his downfall by making him feel over-confident. (Act III, Scene V, ll.1-35).Further on in the play, Macbeth finds his way to the witches cave and demands to know what lies ahead for him. The three witches predict what he is going to ask and produce the first apparition which is an armed head. Macbeth!, Macbeth!, Macbeth!, beware of Macduff; beware thane of Fife. Dismiss me: enough. (Act VI, Scene I, ll.77-78). The first apparition tells Macbeth to beware of Macduff. Then the second apparition appears (a bloody child), and says: Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth. (Act IV, Sene I, ll.85-87). This apparition informs Macbeth that no man born from a woman can harm him. finally, the last apparition appears and is a child crowned, with a tree in his hand. The apparition is saying that he will never bedefeated until Great Birnam wood shall come against him to High Dunsinane Hill. Be lion melted, proud, and take no care who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are: Macbeth shall never vanquishd e until Great Birnam wood to High Dunsinane Hill shall come against him. (Act VI, Scene I, ll.98-102). These apparitions convinced Macbeth that this was his fate and became over confident, and lead him to his death.The use of the supernatural in Macbeth results quite well with the respect of the unknown. Without the witches, the ghost, the visions, and the apparitions, Macbeth would have been a dull and tiresome play. Even todays readers need motivation to read, and this ancient superstition of spirits enhanced the play dramatically.
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