Character Analysis Of Lady Macbeth

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Perfection and Personhood of Women: An Introduction

"Yet"¦here's a spot! Out, damn spot! Out I say!"

This is the famous line that comes to mind when people mention the name of Lady Macbeth, in one of Shakespeare's interesting tragedies, Macbeth. This is a famous line taken from a scene wherein Lady Macbeth was hallucinating and re-enacting the time when they had killed King Duncan, with a gentlewoman and a doctor as witnesses. This could also be the cause for her to commit suicide in the end; pure guilt was eating her conscious from inside that she couldn't bear it anymore! Women during and before her time were trying to attain the power their husbands had through their deception and devious manipulation. People would better understand it when the reasons of society for expecting women to be perfect are all cleared and brought out into the open. This would probably explain what causes women to become perfectionists in the first place. This in the end would most likely find out the reasons why until today women are still expected to be perfect.

This paper is for the benefit of future researchers to better understand the Lady Macbeth's character as a woman during her time. This would contain proofs and hidden facts on how society started to expect perfection from women. It is hoped that this would be able to define the distinct and specific qualities of Lady Macbeth that makes her a perfectionist and that it would hopefully provide a clear picture on how confusion can be brought about by the want to become absolutely perfect. This would also provide the explanation on why she played a great part in the story that proves or clearly states the women are expected to be so and it would also determine or clearly state the effects of her being such a perfectionist.

This distinct research was started to define the problem that women face today, which has been the reasons for society, of both men and women to come up with gender discrimination. This problem has also been the main reason for women, such as wives not to perform their duties and obligations to their partners. This is the same problem that challenges the women of society both young and old to achieve perfection, for the simple reason that they are expected to be perfect. This research is aimed to find out the answers to better understand the imperfections of Lady Macbeth.

In attempting to prove this statement some methods are required to be better organized in finding out the facts and information that would be discovered throughout the research. These methods are as follows: 1.) Describing Qualities, 2.) Pars-Whole, 3.) Defining Context, 4.) Sequencing and, 5.) Cause and Effect.

Lady Macbeth's Character as a Woman

Lady Macbeth's Imperfection

It can be seen that the imperfection of Lady Macbeth was brought about by the desire to become perfect. Assuming that her trying to obtain supreme perfection was the reason in some way or another for the death of Macbeth, has been proven wrong by further reading through the play. After reading the text and while watching Polanski's movie version of the play, it was seen by the researcher that Lady Macbeth could have been the reason for the death of King Duncan but not the death of Macbeth (1995: Columbia Tri-Star Pictures).1 This claim was proven wrong by the movie, which showed that it was "a man, not woman born. A man whom from his mothers womb/untimely ripped"2 was the said "murderer" of Macbeth. After finding this out, it clearly shows that it is possible that the death of Macbeth was not caused by Lady Macbeth's attaining perfection, but by the sword of an enemy.

For one thing Lady Macbeth is a Lady. Thus, she could not have been that man who was being described by the witches. Further reading and watching the play, it was discovered that Macduff was that man. He was taken out of his mother's womb, in other words "he was a Cesarean birth" as, explained by Burnich.3 Clearly, it is safe to say that Lady Macbeth's attaining perfection was not connected in any way to the death of Macbeth. But it is also safe to assume that she still could have been connected or she could still have been the main reason for all those killings made by Macbeth after she gave him the little push of courage and pride that he needed to convince himself to kill the king.

In the sequencing of events in the play, Lady Macbeth would show that there was much confusion in her head about how perfect she should be, brought about by the events in the play itself. According to an essay written by The Lady in Red, Lady Macbeth's character changes throughout the play. She starts her essay with the statement, " To deteriorate ones character through a short period of fast decisions and unsure actions is perilous i".4 Lady Macbeth has proven this theory to be right. Her need to make fast decisions throughout the play made her commit a lot of mistakes in the process. In the essay by Sweetmartina, it is clearly seen that it was possible for the society to affect her way of thinking and brought much confusion to her head. Sweetmartina wrote that, " Women during these times were low on this chain of power,"5 meaning that they could, would and did everything to gain the power, equal or greater than of their husbands. It can also be seen that the Lady's insanity and guilt were the results of her confusion, which later caused her death. Hence, the Lady's conscience alongside with her confusion caused her to commit suicide. From these findings, it can clearly be understood that the society has much effect on the way people look at others and themselves. It can also be possible that society is to blame for the way of thinking of some people, for society expects a lot from everybody and everyone wants to live up to their expectations. It seems that everyone, even before the Elizabethan, era feels that it is their duty to live up to the society's great expectations. Women were expected by the society to be absolutely perfect in every way, which really brings confusion to many, because a mixture of their morals or values with the expectations of the society is too much. The valuing of morals can often be beaten by the expectations of others; thus, it can lead to the imperfection or the flaws of many.

Aiming for the Wrong Type of Perfection

It can be seen that Lady Macbeth is a typical woman during her time. She was achieving perfection at the cost of other's lives. Assuming that her being a typical woman during her time caused the massacre of many which started with the death of Duncan. Her being "a tyrannical villain," in accordance to Paige's research paper6, can be seen and that under the mask of a sweet, tempting and innocent looking woman, there is always something brewing underneath. In the assumption of Paige which was "Lady Macbeth is made to act as a catalyst ii in Lord Macbeth's evildoings"7, it has been proven by the events in the play itself where she "mocks" her husband by saying that he is a coward if he doesn't push through with their plan. It is safe to say that Macbeth wants to reign in return for the blood of others. Had it not been for her push Macbeth would have been able to control his desire to kill the king. Lady Macbeth has many scenes wherein she pushes Macbeth to kill, though these are the actions that will eventually lead to both of their demises iii later in the play. This basically shows how wicked our Lady can be. Reading further through the play's manuscript can still prove this claim to be right and accurate. After the scene where Macbeth tries to convince his Lady that what she wants is wrong, he said, " Prithee, peace. I dare do all that may become a man; who dares more is none." (1966:21)8. But after saying this, he wasn't able to convince neither the lady nor himself because she then mocked him. Clearly, Lady Macbeth is a "tyrannical villain"9 in this part of the play. She is a "villain" to her own Lord. She is the "villain" that pushed her Lord to commit murder and in a way she is the reason for Macbeth's thirst for blood.

Lady Macbeth was a wife whose social status affected the values she should have prioritized. As have been said earlier, the valuing of morals can always be outweighed by the societies expectations, which are difficult to resist. As a result, she prioritized the wrong values and instead of giving good advice and support to her Lord, Lady Macbeth endangered Macbeth's life. She endangered Lord Macbeth's life because had it not been for her motivation, he would have not been so thirsty for the blood of his enemies' families; Macduff would not kill him. For it was Macduff's family whom he had ordered his generals to massacre. After seeing this, it clearly showed that her morality and responsibility as a wife was not met because of her greed for power. Power was the reason for this Lady to give her Lord the motivation to kill, to backstab the king in order to get his position as ruler of the land. Power is the reason for Macbeth to kill Banquo and his precious son. The fear of loosing the power as king drove him to have them both killed. Power can ruin everything people have built throughout the years. Greed and power are human's worst enemies and these are the things that can kill and separate any united party.

Power should not have stemmed from the image of perfection

It is clearly implied that Lady Macbeth should have been herself and not try to gain power by acting as if she is perfect. It can be possible that Lady Macbeth had the wrong reasons for her desire to be perfect, but no one can be sure that if she acted differently, the results and effects of her actions would have been better, worse or just the same. Based on the essay, by The Lady in Red, it can be seen that she definitely was not acting as herself, the title alone can tell this to us. Now, she obviously had the wrong reasons for her to desire such things. Lady Macbeth did not want to reign so that she could help the country to improve. She wanted to reign for the pure pleasure of absolute power and that is completely a selfish motive of greed. The researcher has come to the realization that there is no other reason for people, even women to attain perfection, no other reason but pure power. After this realization, the thought of the right reasons for perfecting ones self is still a mystery. Come to think of it, there is no right reason for wanting to be absolutely perfect.

With regards to the killing of the king, which came to be a sort of tradition, Lady Macbeth can possibly blame tradition because according to a certain tradition, killing the king before them was the only way to get his place and the only way for the Lords to have absolute power. Again, power is the main greed factor of people as has been said power can make a whole county or state in this case a whole army crumble and fall. The greed and want for power can also make a country great, but at the same time it can make that same great country fall.

Lady Macbeth is a wife whose social status affected the values she should have prioritized. Again, it is stated that aside from power, society's expectations can also be the reason for all these crises and failures in life that Lady Macbeth faced and the failures in Macbeth's ruling, which brought about his death. Again, her morality and responsibility as a wife were not met because of her greed for power. As pointed out, Lady Macbeth's thirst for power eventually led to the downfall of both Macbeth and her own life. As a factor that affected Lady Macbeth's way of thinking she was not really performing her role as a wife. Instead of giving good advice and support to her Lord, Lady Macbeth endangered her husband life. This led to both their deaths in the end. For the Lady, who had gone insane because of her conscience and for the Lord whose pride caused him his throne and life.


Lady Macbeth's need for Greed

One can assume that the society is one major factor that affects the way people think. It can change our view of life for better or worse. It can make us realize our mistakes and that we should learn from them or make us ignore the lessons we have gained from them. When it comes to the things we value like the morals and tradition, society can make us change all these. They can make us morally wrong because of the fact that society has a strong power to change what people think. On the other hand, society can make us choose and do the morally right actions. Clearly society can affect one's perspective or way of looking a life itself.

From this research it can be found out that most things from the past never changes. Everything is in some way or another, same as the one before it. The societies of different times have definitely some things in common. Things such as high expectations for the way people should act. After having studied the character of Lady Macbeth, her flaws and her inner personality it can be seen that society has much effect on the way she acted. Lady Macbeth's thirst for power led her to the idea that she must be perfect. Society gave her the idea that perfection is one way to achieve supreme power.
This paper entitled Perfection and Personhood was for the sole purpose of studying Lady Macbeth's character as a woman. In studying Lady Macbeth's character, a lot of social issues were found. Issues such as, the discrimination of society towards people. For women, society expects them to be perfect, they must always aim for perfection no matter what happens. While for men, society expects them to be strong, bold, and powerful. The research is focused on the expectations of the society towards women. Here it was proven that women often do what they do because of the expectations of others. Lady Macbeth's character clearly showed that society has much effect of how people act and think. In the play it is shown that Lady Macbeth's motives for achieving perfection was greed, which was brought about by the great expectations of society. While proving this, one would see that the assumptions made about Lady Macbeth being responsible for Macbeth's death was wrong. It can clearly be seen that it was Macduff who was responsible for Macbeth's death and not the Lady. It has been stated in the introduction that the purpose of this paper is to further explain and find out the qualities of lady Macbeth, which made her a perfectionist. This paper has clearly showed that a lot of factors that brings about confusion and lead to certain types of actions with corresponding consequences. The claim about societies expectations has been proven to be right. Clearly, this paper shows that the great expectations and the feel to meet up with these expectations can and usually affect our way of thinking. However the attempt to find or reveal the hidden facts on how the society first expected this from women was not successful. True we found out why Lady Macbeth pushed Macbeth to kill Duncan in the first place. With this we also found out what pushed her and what her motives were to become perfect.

After conducting this research, it can be seen that societies expectations should be put to thought before trying to meet them. If their expectations are put to thought, one will be able to foresee the actions and their corresponding consequences. Thus, not following the societies expectations right away would be a wise decision that could lead to the improvement of the societies way of thinking. From this paper, it is proven that power and greed can act as main factors in making people act differently. The problem of most women is that, they try to live up to the great expectations of society. Thus, failing to achieve and to perform their roles as wives to their husbands, sisters to their siblings and daughters to their parents.

After making some assumptions and researching to prove these assumptions, it can be said that more research and time is needed to further understand and to further explain why society has these great expectations from women. It would be recommended for the future researchers to look for more resources about this topic. It is also advised not to base their whole research on this paper.

1 A movie made in the year 1995 by Columbia Tri-Star Pictures

2 Taken from the book by Waith, E. M. (1966), The Yale Shakespeare: The Tragedy Of Macbeth and the summary of Burnich, R. (1995), "˜The Royal Play: Macbeth.' as an internet source
3 The summary of Burnich, R. (1995), "˜The Royal Play: Macbeth.' as an internet source

i Dangerous (adj.)
4 Taken from The Lady in Red's essay "Lady Macbeth-Character changes throughout the play."

5 Taken from Sweetmartina's essay "Lady Macbeth: A Woman Before Her Time"

6 A report found in the Internet by Paige, "Lady Macbeth as a Tyrannical Villain."

ii Means (n.)
7 Ibid
iii Death (n.)
8 Taken from the book by Waith, E. M. (1966), The Yale Shakespeare: The Tragedy Of Macbeth
9 A report found in the Internet by Paige, "Lady Macbeth as a Tyrannical Villain."


Burnich, R. (1995), The Royal Play: Macbeth.

Fauncitt, H. and Martin, L. (1970), Shakespeare's Female Characters
        Lady Macbeth. pp. 400-403

Microsoft Encarta. (1993-1996), Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia.
        [CD-Rom] Microsoft Corporation.

Polanski, R. [Director]. (1995). Macbeth. [Film]
        Columbia Tri-Star Pictures

Stauffer, D. A. (1949). Shakespeare's World of Images: The Development of
His Moral Ideas. W.W. Norton and Company, Inc. New York

Waith, E. M. (1966), The Yale Shakespeare: The Tragedy Of Macbeth
        Eight printing. New Haven and London Yale University Press.

Weller, P. (2000), Shakespeare Navigators: Macbeth Navigator.

Ziegler, G. (1997), Shakespeare's Unruly Women.
        Seattle and Boston University Of Washington Press.

"John", Lady Macbeth: Feeble-minded?

"Karin", Chuck III's College Resources: Lady Macbeth.

"The Lady in Red", Lady Macbeth-Character changes throughout the play.

"Paige", Lady Macbeth as a Tyrannical Villain.

"Sweetmartina", Lady Macbeth: A Woman Before Her Time.

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