The play Macbeth by William Shakespeare uses many thought provoking examples of how something that starts out with the best intentions can ultimately lead to disaster. The play, which is set in Scotland back at the end of the medieval era, is about one man’s ambition to become king and the impact of that ambition on those close to him. Macbeth fulfils this ambition through the support and help of this wife, Lady Macbeth, only to find out that what he originally thought he wanted is not making him happy Lady Macbeth strives to ensure her husband attains what he desires, but when she realizes he is unhappy she feels responsible. Examples of Lady Macbeth’s attentive and selfless acts she performs in order to help reassure her husbands aspirations to be king come frequently at the beginning of the play. The altruistic nature of Lady Macbeth collapses to show schemes and lies used to achieve her husbands aspirations further on in the play. Lady Macbeth’s lies and manipulation increases to such an extent, that it causes Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s division, her insanity, which results in her talking her own life. Lady Macbeth’s desire to fulfil her husbands ambitions out of love for her husband turns her into a manipulative wife, which results in their growing separation, her madness and eventually her own downfall.
At the beginning of the play there are many examples of Lady Macbeth’s attempts to satisfy her husband’s dreams through her loving and selfless nature. Lady Macbeth will do anything to fulfil her husbands wishes, which she does both by giving up time and exerting great effort. Sitting at home, Lady Macbeth finishes reading the letter she has just received from her husband regarding what the witches had said and about Duncan coming to visit. She exhibits her first signs of altruism as she states: “Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be / What thou art promise’d:” (Act I , Scene V, Lines 15-16) She can tell by the way he has worded the letter that his ambition is to become king. She promises herself that she will do whatever it takes to fulfil her husbands desire. She accomplishes this by subtly planting the thought of killing the existing king im Macbeth’s mind when he arrives home. As they discuss the issue of being king should Duncan die, she makes the suggestion: “look like the innocent flower, / But be the serpent under’t.” (Act I, Scene V, Lines 65-66) She wants Macbeth to be the evil one but still appear innocent so that he can kill Duncan without getting caught. As a result he would become heir to the throne because Malcolm was not strong enough at this point in the play to take over as king. She places this evil thought into his mind because she knows this plan of action will get her husband what he wants. Then, Lady Macbeth again places Macbeth’s welfare ahead of her own by assuring Macbeth: “He that’s coming / Must be provided for: and you shall put / This night’s great business into my dispatch.” (Act I, Scene V, Lines 66-68) She generously implies that she will give up her spare time to let Macbeth recover from the arduous war he has just experienced, where he brutally killed numerous people. Her intent is to reduce his stress by painstakingly creating a plan to ensure that no aspects of the murder are over looked or details left out. Lady Macbeth also displays her fierce loyalty to Macbeth when she brings the dagger back to Duncan’s chamber directly after Macbeth murders him. Her action is intended to deceive everyone about Macbeth’s involvement in the murder because if he is suspected , his ambition to become king will be denied. Therefore, Lady Macbeth’s implanting of the idea to kill Duncan into Macbeth’s head, taking her spare time to create a plan of attack, and returning the dagger to Duncan’s chamber are prompted only by her desire to ensure her husbands ambition to become king actually happens.
As the play progresses the selfless nature Lady Macbeth first demonstrates gives way to lies and manipulation intended to help achieve her husband’s ambitions at any cost. When Lady Macbeth’s original plan is foiled, she directs people’s minds, including her husband’s to make sure Macbeth gets what he desires. When Macbeth starts to get cold feet about killing Duncan, Lady Macbeth manipulates him by questioning his manhood. She taunts: “When you durst do it, then you were a man; / And to be more than what you were, you would / Be so much more the man.” (Act I Scene VII, Lines 49-51) She shares Macbeth’s desire that he become king, so she twists his mind until he believes he needs to kill Duncan to prove his manliness to her. Lady Macbeth also goes about influencing the minds of other by redirecting their thoughts. As the question arises that Macbeth might be the killer, she immediately faints so that everyone will pay attention to her and not Macbeth. She faints because she knows if he is caught he will be tortured and hung without ever becoming a great king. In this way, Lady Macbeth’s manipulation of the minds of others, including Macbeth, and her ploy of fainting to get people to forget to question Macbeth’s role in Duncan’s murder, were both done out of her love for her husband.
As the number of Lady Macbeth’s lies and the degree of her manipulation of others increases, she grows further apart from her husband, to the point where she becomes mad and commits suicide. Lady Macbeth feels guilt because she sows evil into her husband’s mind, and the guilt comes between them, causing their separation and driving her insane. Lady Macbeth does not think Macbeth is evil enough on his own to commit Duncan’s murder so she starts filling him with the evil she invokes. She says, “yet do I fear thy nature. / It is too o’the milk of human kindness / To catch nearest way’ (Act I, Scene V, Lines 16-18) Lady Macbeth’s placing of the initial evil in Macbeth is just the thin edge of the wedge. His now evil filled soul has been filled with more evil then Lady Macbeth ever expected. Macbeth has crossed too far over the line and Lady Macbeth feels responsible. Macbeth also does not tell his wife about his plans to kill Macduff’s family. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth lets his wife know everything about his intentions, but later ceases to confide in her which makes her feel rejected. The rejection creates further guilt in Lady Macbeth because she initiated the evil in her husband which is now consuming him completely. When the doctor is talking to one of Lady Macbeth’s servants, that servant reveals: “It is accuston’d action with her, to / seem thus washing her hands: I have known her / continue in this a quarter of an hour.” (Act V, Scene I, Lines 29-31) Lady Macbeth then mumbles one night while sleep walking: “Here’s the smell of the blood still: all / The perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little / hand.” (Act V, Scene I, Lines 50-52) She cannot rid herself of her overwhelming guilt which is creating disturbing dreams that she acts out when she sleep walks. The increasing gulf between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, created out of love for her husband causes her insanity at which point she kills herself as a last resort. In the end, manipulation and lies cause Lady Macbeth’s separation from her husband and drives her to insane, resulting finally in her suicide.
Lady Macbeth’s goal to satisfy her husbands dreams out of love for her husband changes her to become a manipulative wife, in turn causing her rejection from her husband, creating her insanity and leading to her downfall. Examples of Lady Macbeth’s attentive and selfless acts she performs in order to help reassure her husbands aspirations to be king come frequently at the beginning of the play. The altruistic nature of Lady Macbeth collapses to show schemes and lies used to achieve her husbands aspirations further on in the play. Lady Macbeth’s lies and manipulation increases to such an extent, that it causes Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s division, her insanity, which results in her talking her own life. Lady Macbeth plans the entire murder, focusing only on the fulfilling of her husband’s ambition to be king. She goes to great lengths to achieve this, including taunting Macbeth to ensure he will go through with the murder. Finally, when she notices that Macbeth is not happy when his ambition is fulfilled, she blames herself, goes mad and eventually takes her own life. Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth learn tragically that what you want is not always what will make you truly happy. Happiness does not come from material possessions or social status. Happiness is something you earn which is one reason why it brings you so much joy knowing in your heart you really deserve the happiness. Next time you think you want something in life stop to consider if it will actually make you happy or is the costs to attain it are too high. Doing so could save you from needless pain and stress.