Sympathy For MacBeth And Lady MacBeth Essay, Research Paper
Subtle sympathy is retained for MacBeth and in some cases Lady MacBeth is through the use of a variety of crafting techniques including imagery, character contrasts, differing points of view and foreshadowing.
Blood is the most used form of imagery. The blood represents the human conscience, life, death and to remind MacBeth and Lady MacBeth of what they have done. After Duncan has been killed and MacBeth and Lady MacBeth have blood all over their hands, MacBeth is starting to feel guilt settle upon him but Lady MacBeth believes that washing the blood away will be the last time they will think about the murder:
?A little water clears us of this deed.? (Act 2, Scene 2, Line 67)
However, MacBeth stills feels guilt, regret and remorse but Lady MacBeth scolds him for acting like he still has blood on his hands. At this point MacBeth still has a conscience and is aware his crime but Lady MacBeth won?t let him feel guilty; she is devoid of human emotion.
Retaining sympathy for MacBeth can also be demonstrated by contrasting the characters of Lady MacBeth and the witches. At the beginning of the play when MacBeth and Banquo first meet the witches, they deliver the first set of prophecies (Act 1, Scene 3, Lines 48-50), the witches start action and tell the audience and the characters what is going to happen. They foretell what is going to happen, the witches do not comment on how he is going to get to be King. MacBeth thinks the title is just going to fall into his lap:
?If chance will have me King, why, chance
may crown me,
Without my stir.?
(Act 1, Scene 3, Line 144)
However, Duncan names his first son, Malcolm as heir. MacBeth is angry and he starts to think murderous thoughts he doesn?t want to think about. But Lady MacBeth begins forming ideas and we see her ambition and greed. Her soliloquy in Act 1, Scene 5 shows how cruel and focussed Lady MacBeth is to get MacBeth to the throne as quickly as possible. She believes that MacBeth has too much ?goodness? in him to get the throne quickly without her influence:
?Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be
What thou art promis?d. Yet I do fear thy nature;
It is too full o? the milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great,
Art not without ambition, but without
The illness should attend it.?
(Act 1, Scene 5, Lines 14 ? 19)
Lady MacBeth and witches never meet each other, but still manage to work against MacBeth and set him up for his own downfall. In Shakespearian tragedy, the main/noble character contains a ?fatal flaw,? which makes them responsible for their downfall. Because MacBeth lets himself believe the witches prophecies and submits himself to Lady MacBeth?s guidance, he winds up killing Duncan. But when listening to the part in Lady MacBeth?s soliloquy in (Act 1, Scene 5, Lines 40-43) it?s realised that Lady MacBeth isn?t as cruel and tough she thinks she is and before she called upon evil spirits, she possessed feminine qualities and feelings.
Shakespeare allows us to hear their thoughts and feelings through soliloquies and this gives us an idea of their opinion on certain issues and throughout the events of the play. For example in Act 1, Scene 3 when MacBeth and Banquo meet the three witches who deliver the first set of prophecies, it is interesting to see the different reactions of MacBeth and Banquo from the same scene. First the witches predict what will happen to MacBeth and he is completely stunned and amazed and fruitful with hope that perhaps what the witches say is true. Whilst MacBeth has taken the witches prophecies very seriously, Banquo is amused by them and asks them in (Act 1, Scene 3 lines 51-61) if they are real and then asks what the future has in hold for him. The witches then tell Banquo what is going to happen to him but he still takes it good-naturedly and not as with such seriousness as MacBeth. Banquo finds it all a little hard to believe: (Act 1, Scene 3, Lines 83-85)
Again, MacBeth just draws small bits of sympathy as he continues to be the subject of the witches? trickery. It seems they are testing him to see how gullible he really is.
The purpose of the first set of prophecies (Act 1, Scene 3, Lines 48-50) and the second set (Act 1, Scene 3, Lines 48-50) is to foreshadow and maintain sympathy for MacBeth.
The second set of prophecies are different from the first set as they are more indirect in their messages deliberately mislead MacBeth into a false sense of security and confusion. Dramatic irony is used in the second set of prophecies; however it is not realised until later when Birnham wood is coming towards Dunsinane. The audience feels sad for MacBeth, as they and MacBeth know he is going to be defeated. The witches malicious behaviour has set MacBeth up his unprepared for what is going to happen.
It?s evident that crafting techniques such as imagery, character contrasts, differing points of view and foreshadowing retains sympathy for MacBeth and in some cases Lady MacBeth. However, the sympathy is quite subtle. It?s put in place so the audience does feel sympathy for MacBeth but makes them question MacBeth?s true intentions and whether he truly is the honourable and courageous man or whether simply a moral coward.