In Shakespeare’s shortest and darkest tragedy based on some historical facts, the nature of folly in different forms is demonstrated. Since Shakespeare was interested in human mind and psychoanalysis, he created Lady’s Macbeth character where he foreshadowed her madness. The author portrayed this madness as a mental illness with the signs of guilt, loss of reality that caused the suicide. Her feeling of guilt led to pure insanity. Her Superego completely ruined her since Lady Macbeth started to lose power. She was not ready for total control and violence, shouldering too much suicide was the only way to finish suffering.
Lady Macbeth is one of the strongest female characters in his play. She is one of the most enigmatic, interesting and decisive characters in the play. Her feelings are eaten up with ambition to be the wife of the king. This distractive ambition is mania that deprived Lady Macbeth of all moral virtues: go get some water, and wash this filthy witness from your hand. (Shakespeare 2.2. 20-21).Like most of Shakespeare’s female characters, she is a tragic figure who loses her personal power, leaves her senses because of her unhealthy mind and eventually commits suicide. It turns out that guilt leads to destruction within. To fully understand the reasons for the madness of Lady Macbeth and why her mind is taken over by power, it is beneficial to go back to the 16th century when there was a belief that the woman is passive, weak and fearful while the men are active, strong and brave. Violence was only performed by men. Surprisingly, Lady Macbeth is a woman who identifies with the strength of a man and is ready to govern. Her love is only an instrument to encourage Macbeth to commit a crime. The signs of madness are even seen in the confession to be able to kill her baby. I would, while it was smiling in my face, have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, and dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this (I, 7). In such a patriarchal society, she wants to fight the limitations of being a woman to become powerful and famous. Not being able to do this, she shames her man for taking action. She calls Macbeth ‘a coward ‘who criticizes his shortcomings.
When Macbeth takes responsibility to become a king and keeps his status, he forces Lady Macbeth out of the picture. When Macbeth plans to kill Banquo, he tells Lady Macbeth to ‘be innocent of knowledge ‘to take full credit for the evil act (Shakespeare 3.2. 46). When she becomes an outsider, Lady Macbeth can recognize the bad behavior that comes from the status of Macbeth as King. She notices guilt and paranoia is beginning to take over him. Gradually, she too weakens and refers to her previous statement, ‘My hands are of your color, but I am sorry to wear such a white heart.’ (Shakespeare 2.2. 64-65) Not being able to remove the blood from her hands symbolizes how she can no longer ignore the guilt and the reality of her actions.After Duncan’s death Lady Macbeth faints, which can be evidence of nervous tension relief. Moreover, murder and secrecy separate the husbands. Macbeth no longer loves Lady Macbeth, he is treating her with indifference. He makes all the choices, she doesn’t. He’s calling her now “Prithee see there! Look! Lo! How say you!” (Shakespeare 3.4. 69-70) leaving her in desperation.
Such rejection of her husband in connection with the awful dreams that she has led her to folly. Realising he wants to get rid of her, she hopes to save her relations saying: “How now my lord? Why do you keep alone, of sorriest fancies your companions making; using those thoughts, which should indeed have died with them they think on? (Shakespeare 3.2. 10-12) Things without regard: What’s done is done.” (Shakespeare 3.2. 12-14) Soon her mental state worsens as she’s afraid Macbeth can kill her either. Lady Macbeth loses her manipulative power as time progresses and fear drives her away. Macbeth, however, gains in self-confidence. All the above aspects of her heartbreak and the guilt of the crimes committed by her husband contribute to her deepening insanity.Terms of psychoanalytic theory help to understand Lady’s Macbeth character that is embodiment of unconscious evil. The anger of a woman, the desire to rule as part of an unconscious mind dominates and causes the metamorphosis of Lady Macbeth. At the very beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth is the stronger person who drives his husband into action. Over time, however, her personality changes as she first breaks down. From the cruel, ruthless and purely evil Lady Macbeth becomes a lonely, unhappy and abandoned woman. She can be described as a psychopath who ends up becoming more human by expressing sympathy (‘Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him’), by feeling bloodstained (‘Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!’), by recognition of irreversibility of their deed (‘To bed, to bed! there’s knocking at the gate: come, come, come, come, give me your hand. What’s done cannot be undone. To bed, to bed, to bed!’).
With these evidences, the reader can assume that the death of Lady Macbeth was not so’ sudden.’ The clues to her internal weakness–her Achilles heel –led to her death and folly. It demonstrates how Lady Macbeth is truly human and able to show weakness or guilt. Shakespeare creates this convenient ending to make the audience feel a little sorry that Lady Macbeth contributes to the tragic atmosphere. She commits suicide as she ends up escaping. Suicide was the only way of controlling her conscience that could be suppressed. In short, Shakespeare was the master of the tragic hero. The drastic change in personality of Lady Macbeth confirms that evil destroys people. Her crimes led her to the extent that she could not deal with the situation, she lost the love, common sense and health of her husband.
Lady Macbeth ‘s downfall was predictable since she began losing power and influence. With an utter desire to conceal the traces of crime she understands that it leaves scars. Mental devastationbecomes evident too soon. Lady Macbeth, in my opinion, pays a great price for her cruelty, which makes her more interesting.
- 1. Macbeth: Entire Play, shakespeare.mit.edu/macbeth/.