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Macbeth – Act 1, Scene 5, Act 1, Scene 7 and Act 5, Scene 1 Paper

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Paper type: Essay , Subject: Literary Classics

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William Shakespeare was born in Stratford in 1564. He was one of eight children. The Shakespeare’s were well-respected prominent people. When William Shakespeare was about seven years old, he probably began attending the Stratford Grammar School with other boys of his social class. Students went to school year round attending school for nine hours a day. On November 27, 1582, Shakespeare married Ann Hathaway who was twenty-eight years old. On May 26, 1583, Ann bore their first daughter, Susanna.

In 1585, a set of twins was born, Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet died at the age of eleven in 1596. No evidence was found of Shakespeare between the years of 1585-1592. These years of Shakespeare’s life were called “The Hidden Years”. Shakespeare left London in 1611 and retired. On March 25, 1616, Shakespeare made a will. He died April 23, 1616 at the age of fifty-two. The cause of his death was unknown. Many people believe that Shakespeare knew he was dying; however, he didn’t want anyone to know that he was.

During Shakespeare’s time, after the graveyard was full, they would dig one’s corpse up and burn the person’s bones in a huge fireplace. Some people would strip the corpse after the burial. Shakespeare hated this type of treatment after death, so he wrote his own epitaph. Ambitious, enthusiastic and assertive are only few of the words that describe Lady Macbeth, a woman so scheming she convince her husband to murder the king. She carefully plans it out, but her passion leads to nightmares, and further on a brutal suicide.

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Lady Macbeth is one of the most complex and interesting characters created by Shakespeare, and her part plays a vital role in one of his most popular plays; “Macbeth. ” At the beginning of the play, she is a highly respected member of the Scottish nobility, has a loving and loyal relationship with her warrior husband, and a quick, reasonable mind. By the end, she is a reviled, mad, suicidal soul, tortured by guilt. In Act 1 Scene 5, Lady Macbeth reads a letter from her husband notifying her about the witches’ prediction that he will be king.

In the letter to his wife, Macbeth calls her his “dearest partner of greatness,” a comment which shows us the close scenery of their marriage and how Macbeth considers his wife to be equal. Shakespeare clearly wants to show Lady Macbeth as a strong woman who has earned the respect of her husband. The keenness of Macbeth to share the witches’ astonishing news with Lady Macbeth so quickly and honestly also highlights the trust the pair must place in each other.

Macbeth greets Lady Macbeth further on in the scene with “my dearest love” – this shows us that they obviously care for each other very much. After reading Macbeth’s letter, Lady Macbeth immediately brings to a close end that the “nearest way” for her husband to become king (and for her to become queen), is to murder Duncan. Macbeth has also secretly thought of this, and that husband and wife should both immediately believe murdering Duncan in order to get the crown shows us that they think in very similar ways and are both cruelly ruthless.

Lady Macbeth is very determined for her husband, and for herself, but she suspects Macbeth “is too full o’ the milk of human kindness” to carry out the killing. She knows he is “not without ambition,” but she also knows that without evil, they cannot get the throne. She not only doubts Macbeth’s abilities, but she also doubts her own ability to convince Macbeth to murder the king; “Hie thee hither, that I may pour my spirits in thine ear. ” It is a misunderstood that Lady Macbeth is able to accept the idea of cold-blooded murder straight away; she cannot.

In fact, she realises that her principles will not let her do this unless she has mystical help to “Stop up the access and passage to remorse. ” She calls for “spirits” to aid her in realising her ambitions. From this, we can see that Lady Macbeth has reasonably thought through “All that impedes” them from the “golden round,” and found a solution by appealing to the mystics to strengthen her. She is not heartless, and so must lose her sense of guilt in order to carry out the evil plan.

The spirits will mask her innocence and enable Lady Macbeth to take part in the regicide. In Shakespeare’s time, it would have been accepted that these evil spirits existed, and so to the audience watching, these paranormal forces could really change Lady Macbeth’s character. A modern audience may not appreciate this, and so may mistakenly think that Lady Macbeth has a completely dark and evil nature.

Lady Macbeth asks the spirits to “unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty; make thick my blood. By ‘unsexing’ her, the spirits are removing her innocence. This shows the connections that were made between femininity and weakness by Shakespearian society. Simply because she was a woman, Lady Macbeth would be viewed as weaker by the audience. A reference is also made to one of the main themes of the play – blood. The image of ‘thickening the blood’ implies that, once again, the spirits must strengthen Lady Macbeth. Blood is also inextricably linked with evil and death, an appropriate topic for this scene, and indeed, the whole play.

Another subject that is mentioned in this scene by Lady Macbeth is milk, “Come to my woman’s breasts and take my milk for gall. ” This is another reference to Lady Macbeth being a woman, and also says that she has produced milk and therefore, we presume, has given birth. The tender emotions linked with children are something that Lady Macbeth wishes the spirits to rid her of, as these emotions will delay her when she and Macbeth try to kill Duncan. So by taking her milk (a substance that is associated with innocence), the spirits would be removing her caring sympathy.

This quote is similar to one made later on in the play by Lady Macbeth, where she is trying to persuade Macbeth to murder the king; “I have given suck, and know how tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this. ” (Act 1 Scene 7). It seems that the spirits have been successful in removing all Lady Macbeth’s empathy by this point, and hardening her against any loving emotions.

Lady Macbeth asks; “Come, thick night, And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, that my keen knife see not the wound it makes, Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, To cry ‘Hold, hold! ” As her husband did earlier with the quote: “Stars, hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires. ” (Act 1 Scene 4), Lady Macbeth is asking for the ability to kill without seeing what she is doing, and without being seen. In an atmosphere of black on black, of dark night darkened with the smoke of hell, Lady Macbeth’s knife won’t see what it’s doing, and neither will heaven.

Of course, a real knife has no eyes and God’s eyes in heaven can see through night and smoke and all. The knife, then, is a symbol for something else, perhaps her toughness will, and “heaven” for her conscience. In short, she thinks she is a killer, but there is a part of her that wants to close its eyes to what she wants to do. At this point in the play, the other characters consider Lady Macbeth to be an affable woman, and Duncan calls her “Fair and noble hostess” (Act 1 Scene 6). Her actions in Scene 5 show us this is not the case, but that she is, in fact, cleverly deceptive and good at influencing others.

She instructs Macbeth in this scene to “look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under ‘t. ” These ‘false appearances’ will be vital if Macbeth and Lady Macbeth want to win the throne without others suspecting them of foul play. Apparently, Lady Macbeth is the perfect gentlewoman, but inside she is a devious, cold woman. She grab hold of the first opportunity to get the throne by planning Duncan’s murder for that night, when he is coming to stay; “O never shall sun that morrow see! Lady Macbeth obviously wants to be deeply involved with the murder, and tells Macbeth to “put this night’s great business into my dispatch” and “leave all the rest to me”. She wants a sense of power and control over their destiny. For Lady Macbeth’s speeches in Act 1 Scene 5, Shakespeare uses verse form. This is done to show Lady Macbeth’s thoughts are prepared and reasonable. Shakespeare uses verse form for the main or important characters in his plays, and uses prose for lowly or insignificant parts.

Lady Macbeth’s tone in Scene 5 is forthright and demanding, as she is either appealing to the spirits, or to her husband, depending on the point in the scene. Command words like “come,” “stop” and “wait” add to the sense of urgency and demand in the speeches. Act 1 scene 7 is very important in helping the reader follow the story line of the play. It shows us three main things; these are what is happening in the play, which knows about what in the play like Banquo who saw the witches with Macbeth and knew that he was to become king, and who the main characters are like Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

This scene helps the reader to understand the play a little bit more, and shows a more evil side to the story. This scene lets the reader piece together the story line so that he can understand it better. Although details of how the murder will take place aren’t very clear, by the end of the scene the reader knows what is going to happen next “when we have marked with blood those sleepy two of his chamber, and used their very own daggers, that they have done’t? ”

By the end of the scene the reader knows that Lady Macbeth is the stronger, more powerful of the two “was the hope drunk wherein yourself? hath it slept since? “, and this is important because at the beginning of the play, Macbeth was the stronger one “hail brave friend”. Macbeth doesn’t like the idea that he has to turn evil to become king because he realizes that there are serious downsides to the murder. Lady Macbeth uses her power over Macbeth to terrorize him into committing the murder and this once again makes Macbeth feel more and more weak.

In Act 1 scene 7, there are two parts, the first one is Macbeth’s soliloquy, and the second is the conversation between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. In the soliloquy, Macbeth is very negative and sees the act of becoming king in all its glory. He realises that there is a big disadvantage in following what the witches have told him “but only vaulting ambition, which o’er leaps itself and falls on th’ other”. In the dialogue, Lady Macbeth is bullying him into committing the murder and because at this point Lady Macbeth is the more powerful of the two, she persuades him to kill the king.

There is a change in Macbeth’s decision in both the soliloquy and the dialogue, the change in the soliloquy is when Macbeth says “first as his kinsman and his subject, strong both against the deed; then as his host, who against his murderer shut the door not to bear the knife myself” because he was going to commit the murder, and now he realizes that killing the king is not right. The change in the dialogue is when Macbeth says, “bring forth men children only” this is important because just before hand he had persuaded himself not to commit the murder and now he is going to go through with it.

It is also important because Lady Macbeth wanted to have a part in the murder but Macbeth says that only men should do what he is about to do. Different people can understand the language in Macbeth in many different ways. Actors, who have to work out how they are going to play their part, need to know when to stress certain words and what they need to be doing. Shakespeare writes in old English and therefore actors in the present day, need to decide how they want their part to be understood by the audience. In the dialogue, Macbeth says to Lady Macbeth “if we should fail? and then she says back to him “we fail? ” because different copies of the story are rewritten by different people, the “we fail? ” said by Lady Macbeth can be found written with an exclamation mark at the end of it. The whole of this scene is about regicide and that Macbeth has a lot of pride which means that, even if he knows athat it will be a failure in the future, he is powerless to do anything about it at present because he wants the throne, as he has been told he will get the throne and can’t wait for it to come to him.

Macbeth knows that he won’t be able to keep the fact that he’s the murderer a secret for ever, and he tells us this in his soliloquy, but Lady Macbeth in her own wicked way bullies Macbeth into murdering the king. Macbeth is powerless against Lady Macbeth and she uses this to her advantage because anything she says, Macbeth will do. She tells Macbeth that he will come out of this successfully “but screw your courage to the sticking-place and we’ll not fail”. In Act 5 Scene 1, Lady Macbeth’s character has transformed. She sleepwalks, and is haunted by the horror of what she and her husband have carried out.

A doctor has been called because of her worrying behaviour. She repeatedly tries to clean her hands, as her gentlewoman tells us, and mumbles about the murders, which seem to torture her with guilt. She thinks her hands are still covered with the blood of Duncan, and yet all her attempts to clean them do not remove the ‘blood’; “Out, damned spot! Out, I say! ” “Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him? ” All her pleas in Act 1 Scene 5 to the evil spirits haven’t prevented her from feeling remorse. Her doubts about herself seem to have been justified – she has been driven mad by the subsequent events.

Again, she makes comments similar to those of Macbeth about the ‘blood’ on her hands, saying; “Here’s the smell of blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand,” Macbeth says; “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green one red. ” Clearly, the guilt felt for Duncan’s murder, represented by his blood, stays with Lady Macbeth and her husband for the duration of the play, and hangs heavily on their minds.

On three occasions during Act 5 Scene 1, Lady Macbeth mentions, in her agitated state, all the murders that Macbeth has carried out. I have already mentioned the comment about Duncan’s murder (the “old man”). When remembering the murder of Macduff’s family, Lady Macbeth says; “The Thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now? ” She also seems to be petrified that Banquo will rise from the dead to haunt her, and to comfort herself says; “Banquo’s buried; he cannot come out on ‘s grave. ” Lady Macbeth is evidently plagued by all the murders. When Macbeth says earlier in the play; “‘Sleep no more!

Macbeth does murder sleep’ – the innocent sleep. ” (Act 2 Scene 2), he accurately describes the desperate state of Lady Macbeth in Act 5 Scene 1. Her sleep is not “innocent,” but simply a time for her brain to re-live the awful events which have passed. Her authentic fear in this scene is a contrast to the anticipation evident in Act 1 Scene 5, where she is willing herself on. Now, she honestly regrets the murders, but knows “What’s done cannot be undone. ” Her true feelings about the murders are revealed and there is no longer a masking of her conscience, as she wanted before.

She now has an understanding of the real meanings of good and evil, and feels much guilt. In Act 5 Scene 1, blood is referred to as an evil, horrid liquid, which clings as a constant reminder of murder and death; “Here’s the smell of blood still. ” This is unlike in Act 1 Scene 5, where blood is viewed by Lady Macbeth as a driving force behind her and her husband’s success; “make thick my blood. ” (Act 1 Scene 5). Perhaps this shift in Lady Macbeth’s opinion of blood shows how she now realises the true horror of murder, whereas before she had no first-hand experience of it, and therefore mistakenly judged the act lightly.

She thought she could cope with the situation, but even with the aid of the supernatural, it is clear that she could not. Before, in Act 1 Scene 5, Lady Macbeth appealed to darkness to mask the murder from her conscience, like a comforter and protector. In Act 5 Scene 1, Lady Macbeth regards darkness as frightening, not as comforting; “Hell is murky! ” This is yet another example of Lady Macbeth being hounded by her guilt; she realises that she is doomed to reside in hell after her death, and darkness is something that reminds her of this terrible fate.

The tone of Lady Macbeth’s speech in Act 5 Scene 1 is completely different to that of Act 1 Scene 5. She mumbles, falling over her words, as if speaking before she has thought. She bears all, and does not worry, or even notice, that the doctor and gentlewoman are there. This is very different to Act 1 Scene 5, where her words are carefully structured and deliberate. The speech of Act 5 Scene 1 has no purpose, whereas in Act 1 Scene 5 it was demanding and insistent. Shakespeare cleverly changes his use of verse form into that of prose for Lady Macbeth, as if she was an inferior part in the play.

This use of prose shows the audience she is rambling, illogical and mad now. Her words in Act 5 Scene 1 flow as in a ‘train of thought,’ and phrases are repeated many times, to emphasise her madness; “Come, come, come, come, give me your hand. ” Sentences are left unfinished and often make no sense; “One; two: why, then ’tis time to do ‘t. ” The doctor makes a very appropriate comment at the end of this scene; “Unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles; infected minds to their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. More needs she the divine than physician.

In other words, Lady Macbeth’s invocation of the supernatural (“unnatural”) spirits, and her husband’s evil actions, have caused her to go mad (“infected minds”). The doctor admits he cannot help. At the beginning, Lady Macbeth finds strength from the supernatural to entice Macbeth to murder Duncan and to go through with the murder herself. As time advances though, her pretended strength diminishes as she fights the torments of her conscience. Lady Macbeth’s attempts to suppress her conscience fail, and blame engulfs and destabilizes her. In the end, she chooses death because she can no longer bear the torments of her guilt.

The dramatic transformation of such a pivotal character adds suspense to the play, and also delivers a moral message to the audience (which included King James I, who had a personal interest in witchcraft); that the pursuit of witchcraft, murder and evildoing can only lead to downfall. It also reveals a slightly different view of the “fiend-like queen”, showing us that she feels remorse, and is defenceless to it, like any other person. In the 16th century the audience was not like it is today. People in general believed in witches. It was thought that they were a real presence.

Magic was a common subject and quite normal. However, witches were also thought to be evil and were therefore killed. An example of this was ‘The Witch Trials’ where James I executed hundreds of young women because they were thought to be witches. However, in the 21st century, there is a completely different concept of witches. Magic is no longer believed in. therefore, witches are now an aspect of fiction. Any outside influence that cannot be explained is not said to be magic or luck, it is explained to us by psychiatrists to be some kind of phenomena of the human mind.

This means basically that it is of our own imaginations. In conclusion, the ways that the scenes would be presented to an Elizabethan audience are very realistic and scary. By scary, I mean that as the Elizabethans believed in witches, they feared them. So, when I present the witches and their familiars, it would be scary to this audience. However, this varies greatly from the way in which I would present the scenes to a contemporary audience. This being that everything is presented on a sub-conscious level. This is more acceptable to the society of today.

Anything that is not quickly explained away is a threat to the stability of our society. If a seemingly abnormal occurrence cannot be explained as some kind of experience, people begin to feel at risk and scared. This feeling of insecurity has always been covered up through the different eras by different beliefs and commonly accepted ideas. If there were not a solid belief, we would be thrown into chaos and confusion. Everyone would question everything and life would become very frantic. Just as it does in the final scenes of Macbeth-when he dies.

About the author

This sample essay is completed by Harper, a Social Sciences student. She studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. All the content of this paper is just her opinion on Macbeth – Act 1, Scene 5, Act 1, Scene 7 and Act 5, Scene 1 and should not be seen as the way of presenting the arguments.

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