Lady Macbeth: from Ambition to Insanity

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Fervent desire shields perspective on the permanence of one’s actions. In pursuit of one’s desperate aspiration, the consequences that can stem from these actions seem irrelevant. In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lady Macbeth’s transformation from calculated manipulator to guilt-ridden madwoman demonstrates that even the coldest human beings cannot truly enjoy that which is gained from murder.

At the beginning of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, a ruthless planner, shows no qualms doing what she must to achieve her goals. An opportunist, she jumps on prospects as soon as they arise. When she receives Macbeth’s letter about the witches’ predictions, she immediately begins plotting Duncan’s murder, and calls upon dark spirits to “fill [her] from crown to toe top-full of direst cruelty” (1.5.49-50) to assist her in getting the job done. While most women would never dream of summoning evil to become queen, Lady Macbeth will do whatever it takes to achieve the power she yearns for. She easily squashes her husband’s doubts in their scheme by belittling his manliness, calling him “a coward in [his] own esteem” (1.7.47) and other demeaning names. This type of manipulation comes naturally to Lady Macbeth, as does an attitude of relentless determination. Irritated with Macbeth’s failure to complete the entire murder plan, she degradingly comments that the “the sleeping and the dead are but as pictures” (2.2.69-70), and takes the bloody daggers to the chamberlains herself. Not one to stand by and watch her ambitions usurped by the incompetence of other people, she is willing to get blood on her hands to see a task through to the end.

In the middle of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, queen of Scotland, finds that she is not as happy as she hoped to be. In spite of all the effort she and Macbeth invested in Duncan’s murder, the two are malcontented with their lives. While alone, she

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