Macbeth Essay – the Similarities and Differences Between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

Tran Huyen My – Amy ENG3U Ms. Jeska January 10th , 2012 Before and After When comparing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to each other, the main similarity between them that must be mentioned is that they both have high ambitions for royalty and greatness. Beside the only one significant similarity, they also differ with two distinct differences. Throughout the play, they both portrayed as evil characters who have committed the deaths of other characters, however the driving force of their cruel behavior are totally different.

The reason that leads Lady Macbeth to her menacing personality was self-denial while Macbeth’s driving force was motivated by his big greed. The flaws each possessed resulted their downfall and this is the last different when comparing Macbeth and his wife. The main similarity that Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth both shared was their high ambition for royalty and greatness. That was also the foundation for committing all the murders throughout the play which are caused by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Due to the prediction of the three witches “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor… shalt be King hereafter” (Act 1, Scene 3).

The prophecies not only triggered the ambitions in Macbeth but also give rises of bigger ambitions in Lady Macbeth. The death of King Duncan portrayed an example in the play that clearly showed how Lady Macbeth delivered herself with her ambitions (Act 2, Scene 2). As all the readers know, the first death in the play, King Duncan, who is obviously killed by Macbeth. To add to this, Lady Macbeth was also the one responsible for the murder of King Duncan. By using Macbeth’s love for her, Lady Macbeth persuades him into killing King Duncan because Macbeth loves and trusts his wife; he is vulnerable to her opinions and temptations.

That is shown in the quote “We fail! But screw your courage to the sticking-place […] who shall bear the guilt of our great quell? ” (Act 1, Scene 7). Because of her ambition of becoming King and Queen, Lady Macbeth’s ambition took over her morality and eventuall ended up whispering deadly words that caused King Duncan’s tragic death. For Macbeth, his ambition was also growing as the play progresses. While the ambition of Lady Macbeth stops after she achieved her desire of becoming the Queen of Scotland, Macbeth was still getting more committed to his great ambition.

The evidences for the great ambition of Macbeth are that he is again committed the next two assassinations of Banquo and Macduff’s wife and son (Act 3, Scene 3 and Act 4, Scene 2). He murdered these people because he was afraid of the predictions from the three witches that might come true: For the prediction of Banquo, three witches said that his son will become King, “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater […]. For another prediction of Macduff, they said that Macbeth should be aware of Macduff, “Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff.

Beware the Thane of Fife – Dismiss me. Enough. ” (Act 4, Scene 1). Due to these two predictions, Macbeth decided to kill those people who might be a dangerous threat to his throne. Those two evidences clearly show the Macbeth’s great ambition completely turned him into a very greedy being and a man who lacked human traits as he will do anything, including killing people, just to secure his power. After all, both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are the same, they both have high ambitions which are just for achieving their own royalty and greatness.

Although Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are both portrayed as evil characters who have committed to all the murders in the play, their driving force with drove them to their cruelty is totally different to each other which was also the first difference that differ them in the play. Both have the same evil characteristic but for Lady Macbeth, her cunningness is motivated by her self-denial. She thinks for Macbeth that leads her to the decision of killing King Duncan because she wants her husband to become the King of Scotland. Quote “ […] Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here […] nor keep peace between th’effect and it! (Act 1, Scene 5). In translation, the quote basically said that Lady Macbeth wanted to become a man, less like a woman so she won’t feel remorse, so that no human compassion can stop her evil plan or prevent her from accomplishing it. Through the translation of that quote, the readers infered that she wanted to be stronger because she felt remorse and guilty when she made the decision to kill; which means the humanity still exists in her. From this, it shows that she does not want to kill Duncan unless it is the only way can make Macbeth become the King.

Therefore, right after she achieved her desire, the ambition stopped urging her which was proven by the events in the play that she was not committed to anymore murder after the death of King Duncan. On the contrary to Lady Macbeth, the driving force to the evilness in Macbeth came from his own greed for what he cannot have. At the beginning of the play, he was struggling about whether he should kill King Duncan or not and he seemed to be guilty for his decisions. After the murder was done, Macbeth officially became the King of Scotland. That was when he became more and more ambitious because now he could do anything he wanted to.

Lead by the fire of ambition, Macbeth tried to assassinate Banquo and his son, Fleance, which was an example that really proved to the readers of his greed. Quote “To be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus – Upon my head they plac’d a fruitless crown […] come fate, into the list, and champion me to the utterance. ” (Act 3, Scene 1). From the quote stated, they showed that Macbeth was jealous with Banquo whose son will become the King just like in the witches’ prophecies,while Macbeth does not have a son who supposed to take his place as the successor.

Macbeth thought it was not fair because after everything that he had done just for their benefit. To secure his power and protect his throne for himself, once again, Macbeth committed the death of his dear friend, Banquo. From those explanations, Macbeth has completely changed into an evil man because he was too greedy for what he cannot have. At the end of the play, the downfall of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth was their infamous death. However, comparing their downfalls to each other, they were also very different to the expectations of most of the readers.

Their downfall was another difference contributed to the contrast between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Especially for Lady Macbeth, whom planned the murder of King Duncan and tried to convince her husband to get rid of the guilt and to follow her scheme. Before the butchery started, she showed herself as a cruel, assertive woman when dealing with her husband’s hesitation about the murdering of King Duncan which was shown in the quote “When you durst to do it, then you were a man […] had I so sworn as you have one to this. ” (Act 1, Scene 7).

The audience was lead to believe that Lady Macbeth will never feel any guilt concerning the murder, but her guilty conscience was displayed near the end of the play. She began to sleepwalk and relived the murder in her mind. Quote “Out, damned spot! Out, I say! One; two; why, then tis time to do’t. Hell is murky! Fie, my lord—fie! a soldier, and afeard? ” (Act 5, Scene 1). During the course of the play, Lady Macbeth was portrayed as a tough character, through her actions with her husband, her own opinions of the murders, and finally she tried to cope with her obvious guilt.

The guilt of the murder now has become unbearable for her and at the end, her unexpected downfall happened as she killed herself. On the contrary with Lady Macbeth, Macbeth showed his fear and guilt when dealing with the murder of Duncan which is shown in the scene of that he saw the imaginary dagger. At first, Macbeth’s intentions would have been less serious if his wife was not more anxious than he was. Not as assertive as his wife, Lady Macbeth uses his love for her to pressure him to follow her plan, therefore, he was forced to murder Duncan; pushed by his wife therefore it is partly Lady Macbeth’s fault for Macbeth’s downfall.

However, as the story progresses, the more inhumane and fearless Macbeth became as well as the body counts that he caused began to rise. For example, after the death of King Duncan was the death of Banquo and Macduff’s family was also the victim of the Macbeth’s rage. He seems to become forgotten the simple human feelings and emotions. The quote, he states, “I have almost forgotten the taste of fears: The time has been my senses would have cooled to hear a night-shriek and my fell of hair would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir. ” (Act 5, Scene 5). He even cannot feel fear as he realized Malcolm’s army are going to invade him soon.

He further showed how he was immune to human emotion in the following moment, when he was told that Lady Macbeth had died. Macbeth reacted coldly by saying “She should have died hereafter. ” (Act 5, Scene 5). Those are some evidences clearly showing the unexpected changes of Macbeth as his downfall escalated. At the end of the play, the last downfall that Macbeth had to bear was his headless death (Act 5, scene 8). Overall, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have only one same similarity and that was that they both have high ambitions and greeds for royalty and greatness, and this was the main cause for committing the murders.

In the play, the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth unfolded in an already passionate marriage. They are grounded by their love and would do almost anything for each other, therefore, it was also the driving force of Lady Macbeth’s evilness which came from the self-denial. While the difference was Macbeth’s evilness was just motivated by his greed. They also differed from each other in their different downfalls at the end of the play. Lady Macbeth was an assertive, cruel woman at first which lead the readers to believe that she will never be obsessed about her guilt like er husband, but at the end, the downfall is that she has to take is her guilt and death. While Macbeth at first showed his fear and deep guilt for the murder of King Duncan. Later on in the tragedy, Macbeth’s downfall was his unexpected changes of becoming fearless and an inhumane person. Work Cited: Shakespeare, William, writer. Macbeth. Script adapted by John McDonald. Characters designed by Jon Haward. Coloured and lettered by Nigel Dobbyn. Inking assisted by Gary Erskine. Designed and laid out by Jo Wheeler. Additional information gathered by Karen Wenborn. Edited by Clive Bryant. Litchborough: Classical Comics Ltd, 2008. Print.

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