Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Theory and Practice Essay

2862 Words12 Pages
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Theory and Practice

Shakespeare's Macbeth has been the subject of scholarly research in terms of ambition, politics, and sexuality. The most predominant analysis is that of the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. This relationship in theory is full of sexual innuendo, maternal power, gender transgression, and violence. In reading multiple essays on the psychological nature of the relationship one question came to mind: to what extent are the characters aware of the psychological effect they have on each other in performance? In contrast to the various essays by literary scholars, Sinead Cusack wrote with Carol Rutter in Shakespeare's Late Tragedies about her process in preparing for the role
…show more content…
Also, all roles refer to, what I believe, not the masculinity, but defeminizations of the women in order to further extort their power over Macbeth (Adelman 139). However, if the scholarly analysis is correct, that Macbeth is a play representing the male fear of feminine power and chaos (ibid, Watson 99) than the "unsexing" of these characters would destroy the central theme of the play, or at least reduce the danger to masculinity. Although the witches take on an androgynous persona "you should be women/And yet your beards forbid me to interpret/That you are" (1.3.45-47) they are entirely feminine in their ability to tempt Macbeth and to "mother" him by manipulating him. Lady Macbeth tempts him as well "Art thou afeard/To be the same in thine own act and valour,/As thou art in desire?" (1.7.37-39) and also reduces him to the status of an infant by comparing him to her infant in 1.7.54-59 "I have given suck, and know..." (this line will be more fully explored below).

The connection between Lady Macbeth and the Witches is an easy one to make. Her calling on spirits, or "murdering ministers" to "unsex me here" (1.5.40-48) closely resembles the Witches calling on spirits in order to practice their craft. Lady Macbeth also represents to Macbeth the same role of the Witches-to push him into the murder of Duncan. Wherever the Witches take off Lady Macbeth picks up in what are
Get Access