Do You Have Any Sympathy At All
For Both, One Or Neither Of The Macbeths? Essay, Research Paper
In life everyone has goals that they hope to attain and there are many ways that one can achieve these goals. To achieve what you desire you can either wait for time to take its toll, or take matters into your own hands and do what you have to do in order to fulfil your desires. You can attain your goal as long as you have ambition. In Shakespeare s Macbeth, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth had the goal of Macbeth becoming king: to obtain this they took matters into hands and killed Duncan. In order for somebody to commit such a heinous act as murder the conspirators must be ruthless, and this is what Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were, ruthless.
This ruthlessness provides little support, for any or some sympathy for the characters at the end of the play.
Lady Macbeth is more ruthless than her husband and her ruthlessness is what fuelled the murder of Duncan.
Her ruthlessness and power hunger led ambition is shown when she is first seen in the play at Act 1 Scene 5; the letter reading scene.
In this scene Lady Macbeth comments on her thoughts after having read the letter from her husband, she knows that her husband who is too full o th milk of human kindness (too kind and nice in other words) may have trouble facing up and having the guts to kill the king. She knows that to fulfil her ambition, she will have to persuade Macbeth to kill the king. Lady Macbeth uses different techniques to urge Macbeth into thinking that killing Duncan would be the only to get on the throne, quote, Your hand, your tongue; look like th innocent flower but be the serpent under t Lady Macbeth means that deception will be needed to commit the murder.
Perhaps the most significant events that display that Lady Macbeth is more ruthless than her husband occurs in Act 1 Scene 7. Below is a quote from Macbeth,
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong both against his deed; then as his host, who should against his murdered shut door, not bear the knife myself.
This shows that Macbeth does (at this point) have a conscience and he does care about being king, but does not want to have to kill for the throne. In this soliloquy, Macbeth weighs up all the pros and cons of murdering Duncan and for a split second, he decides not to kill him, but telling his wife this, We will proceed no further in this business she fools him into changing his decision. At this point I feel some sympathy for Macbeth only because he is so indecisive and can easily be persuaded by his morally stronger wife.
This brings up another aspect, Macbeths and Lady Macbeths relationship. The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is a very close one but a strange one. There are several things that Macbeth does not know about Lady Macbeth that she knows about him, for example she knows his weaknesses and the strength of his character. At the beginning of the play Lady Macbeth is the stronger of the two. Although it was the witches that told Macbeth predictions of him becoming king,
It was Lady Macbeth who got the wheels turning, with her art of persuasion, and knowledge of Macbeth s weaknesses, to make him kill the king.
Another scene, which is important about showing the deeper characters, is
Act 2 Scene 2. The murder scene.
In this scene it seems that Macbeth really regrets murdering Duncan and questions his own actions, quote Act 2 Scene 2 lines 50-53, I ll go no more, I am afraid to think what I have done look on t again I dare not. It is as if it is only him that feels remorse and he feels disturbed by the fact that he has killed Duncan, quote, Still it cried, Sleep no more! to all the house, Glamis hath murdered Sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more Macbeth knows that his actions were not right and that he ll lose sleep over Duncan s murder (but we know who actually does lose there sleep in the end ) however his wife does not show the same emotions instead she criticizes him, quote, Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy Thane, you do unbend your noble strength to think brainsickly of things .
At this point I feel compassion for Macbeth for he is in a situation that he didn t really want to be in the first place but due to his wife hunger for power he was now standing with the blood of the king on his hands. I believe that Lady Macbeth, does honestly care for her husband because she is always saving him from revealing that they are Duncan s murderers, because after the murder, Macduff finds Duncan dead, Macbeth then starts to act suspiciously and draws attention to himself. It is then that Lady Macbeth has to help him out and draw the attention away from him and to her by fainting. She does this later too, during the banquet scene. Lady Macbeth is always there to clean up after Macbeth; Because of this I did feel a little compassion for Lady Macbeth at that point and don t think so badly of her.
A turning point in the play has to be in Act 3 Scene 2. In Act 3 Scene 2, the further deterioration of Macbeth,and in particular, his relationship with Lady Macbeth is emphasised. Here, Lady Macbeth’s character is shown to be a lonely woman who once knew everything that was going on in her life with Macbeth; she played a part in everything. She longs once again to have the relationship that she had with her husband, having a strong influence on him. She wants to know what is going on. He does not specifically tell her what is to be done but just hints that a “deed is to be done”. This scene clearly shows what has become of their relationship. It is on a decline. They are no longer partners as Macbeth once said; his “dearest partner”. They have swapped positions. She has lost the power that she once had and Macbeth has gained a power that he never had. After this scene Macbeth orders the murders of Banquo and Fleance. After Macbeth orders the murders of Banquo (his friend) and Fleance, I know begin to feel less compassion and sympathy for him. This is because before Lady Macbeth was giving out the orders and Macbeth obeyed like a hapless dog but now Macbeth using his own initiative is sending out murderers to do his dirty work. He is the one now giving out the orders.
The scene, which I think, shows that Lady Macbeth cares for Macbeth is the Banquet scene. The banquet scene, apart from showing the guilt that Macbeth carries with him after the murder of Banquo, presents once again that Lady Macbeth is very alert and knows how to draw attention away from Macbeth, who fears the ghost of Banquo. She tells them to leave and she has once again saved himself from revealing himself, she has protected him again and this presents us with the fact that she still loves him and cares for him and wants to protect him. Something that Macbeth cannot give to her in return.
After the Banquet scene we do not see Lady Macbeth again until Act 5 Scene1
The Scene that I lost all sympathy for Macbeth is Act 4 Scene 2. In this Scene Macbeth sends murders out to murder in totally innocent family of Macduff. I thought, that doing this was completely not called for and those actions took away any last shred of sympathy I had for Macbeth.
In Act 5 Scene 1, the sleepwalking scene in which Lady Macbeth sleepwalks and reveals her guilt and terror of what she has done is a contrast to what her character was like before. It is now like that God had punished hear for her deeds earlier in the play. She was powerful and now she is so guilt ridden that she is at the state of sleepwalking. It presents us with an irony. In Act 2, where they have murdered Duncan she states that “a little bit of water shall clear us of this deed” and yet during her sleepwalking she says “out damn spot, out” and tries so hard to remove the blood. It proves the point that everything is not as easy as it seems. This woman who was once so powerful is now nothing more than a scared villain and although Lady Macbeth knew this about Macbeth, he doesn’t seem to realise it about her.
At this point even I have to admit that I feel a little sympathy for Lady Macbeth even after the evil deeds she did commit earlier in the play. Once mentally strong and powerful now she seems to be a depressed little woman on the verge of suicide.
The major scene in which the changes in Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s relationship is shown is in Act 5 where he is told of Lady Macbeth’s death. This scene shows just what the relationship has resulted to and the grief that he feels. The quote “she should have died hereafter tells us that Macbeth is grieving and that he has lost all that he has, it isn t really a normal reaction compared to Macduff s, when he found out his wife was dead. Macbeth s is rather mild comparatively. His following speech “tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow” shows his weariness and his realisation that he has no future and that he has lost everything he ever had. He uses two metaphors about life. One of a “flickering candle” and the other “that life is just a series of phases” He talks in a rather suicidal manner as he knows that everything is lost. I think that at this point I felt sorry/sympathy for Macbeth after all that had happened to him. The Witches and his wife being major influences on him, made his life, in the end, deteriorate and to the point of self-sacrifice.
Overall, having read the play my personal response is somewhat ambivalent to say the least. In some parts of the play you feel compassion for the character in others hatred for their actions. In the end, I say, I have to agree with the statement:
This butcher and his fiend- like queen