Role Reversal in Shakespeare’s Macbeth Essay

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In William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, two main characters experience a change that alters their roles and brings out the worst in them. After Macbeth is promised greatness by three witches on a heath, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth try to achieve his prophecy. Because of their over-reaching ambition, they commit numerous murders to obtain their goal of becoming royalty. In order to cope with the guilt, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth undergo a role reversal, where they exchange characters and amount of ambition. In the beginning of Macbeth, Macbeth is hesitant. Lady Macbeth, being ruthless, tries to convince Macbeth to kill King Duncan, but his conscience is stronger than his ambition. He feels that the king is at his palace in “double-trust”; he is…show more content…
No man that’s born of woman shall e’er have power upon thee” (V. iii. 6-7). He is not questioning anything and thinks that he cannot be killed by anyone. On the contrary, Lady Macbeth begins as a ruthless woman. She has a manipulative and controlling character, convincing Macbeth to kill King Duncan; she will do anything to gain power. When she says, “How tender ‘tis to love the babe…I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out” (I.vii. 55-58), she shows her ruthlessness and her “bad” ambition. In her “role reversal” with Macbeth, she gains somewhat of a conscience and realizes her guilt. When she tells him, “You must leave this” (III. ii. 35), she wants Macbeth to forget about his plan to murder Banquo’s family. She is very hesitant about committing another murder and does not want Macbeth to follow through with his plan. The resulting role reversal of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth is evidence that guilt and greed eventually lead to a character’s downfall. For Lady Macbeth, her ruthlessness and greed of becoming royalty caused her to convince Macbeth to commit murderous acts, such as killing King Duncan. After the role reversal, she became aware of what she had done and realized the magnitude of her guilt. She goes into a state of denial, and commits suicide. On the other hand, Macbeth’s hesitance causes him to trust Lady Macbeth and kill King Duncan. After the role reversal, he becomes ruthless and
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