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The Power Struggle in Shakespeare's Macbeth Essay

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The Power Struggle in Macbeth

In Shakespeare's Macbeth, the focus that is placed on the character of Lady Macbeth helps to convey the play's theme of the strife created by the struggle for power and control that is present throughout the entire work. Shakespeare presents her character in great detail and shows her to be a dominating, authoritative woman who thrives on the power she holds over her husband. He then shows the principle character, Macbeth, rise up and join his wife in a struggle for power of his own. It is the actions that Macbeth takes in attempt to achieve ultimate authority that lead to his downfall, and it is Lady Macbeth's loss of control over her husband as he gains this independence which causes her own
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For example, when he is indecisive about the plans to kill King Duncan, Lady Macbeth labels him a coward. When Macbeth defends himself by explaining that he is doing all that can be expected of a man, she replies, "When you durst do it, then you were a man"(1.7.49). She claims that no real man would back down and refuse to follow through with an act he had agreed to, and that, if he does so, she, herself, would be considered more of a man than he. As Max Huhner points out in one of his essays, Lady Macbeth, like many of Shakespeare's other female characters, is presented as being "more vindictive, revengeful, spiteful, and mean. . .than any man would be"(87). She boasts of her own aggression as she states:

. . . 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 plucked my nipple from his boneless gums,

And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you

Have done to this.(1.7.54-9)

Later in the play, when Macbeth is troubled by the presence of the ghost of Banquo at his palace, Lady Macbeth again uses insults to try to control his actions in front of the guests with the harsh words, "Are you a man?"(3.4.59). "What! quite unmanned in folly?"(3.7.74). Lady Macbeth seems to feed off the power she obtains over her husband by attacking his character, and she uses this to build up her own confidence.

Once Macbeth follows through with his wife's plan to murder the
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