How Do Lady Macbeth's Words and Actions free essay sample
How do Lady Macbeth’s words and actions in Act 5 Scene 1 contrast with her comments and deeds in Act 2 Scene 2? In Act 2 Scene 2, Lady Macbeth is strong, confident and cold. She knows that her husband Macbeth has killed King Duncan, and that she smeared his blood on the guards to make it look like they killed the King but she acts as if everything is fine. When Macbeth is panicking, Lady Macbeth says to him “these deeds must not be thought after these ways. So it will make us mad. ” She is saying to him that if they keep thinking about what they it will drive them crazy.
This is ironic because in Act 5 Scene 1 it becomes extremely clear when Lady Macbeth begins sleepwalking that she is the one who is thinking of nothing else but their heinous crimes and it is making her mentally unstable. In Act 5 Scene 1, when Lady Macbeth begins sleepwalking she says “out, damned spot! Out I say… What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? ” The use of repetition and the imperative “out” suggests that she is trying to command the spot to leave her hands, and the exclamation mark implies a sense of urgency and desperation.
The rhetorical question suggests that Lady Macbeth knows that she is trying to convince herself that no-one can lay the guilt on her and Macbeth. This is a complete turnaround from her comments in Act 2 Scene 2 when Macbeth says “will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? ” and Lady Macbeth replies by saying “a little water clears us of this deed. ” She is once again dismissing her husband’s fear and just telling him to wash his hands as if it is dirt he has on his hands rather than the King’s blood.
Here, she is in complete control but in Act 5 Scene 1 she is showing that she is a lot more psychologically tortured then she first let on. When Macbeth comes back to Lady Macbeth in Act 2 Scene 2 after he has committed regicide, he doesn’t want to continue with the plan which was to smear King Duncan’s blood on the guards, to make them seem guilty, Lady Macbeth says “Infirm of purpose! Give me the daggers. I’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal, for it must seem their guilt. This shows Lady Macbeth’s authoritative qualities as she demands Macbeth to hand her the daggers by using the imperative “give”. She is determined that the guards should be blamed for the murder of King Duncan. However, in Act 5 Scene 1 she asks the rhetorical question “yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him? ” Even though we know Lady Macbeth’s involvement in King Duncan’s murder, there is a sense of innocence in the rhetorical question, like when a child asks a question because they have no idea what the answer should be.
It also seems as if this is the first time she has been so intimate near to a dead body so she doesn’t know what to expect and is shocked that someone bleeds so much when you murder them. When Lady Macbeth says “old man” this is strange, as the audience know the man she is referring to is King Duncan and although he was an old man, that is not the correct way to address him. The reference to an “old man” could be her talking about her father, who she said earlier that “hah he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done‘t. ”
In the end, it turns out that Lady Macbeth isn’t as strong and in control as she pretends to be. She is incapable of withstanding the repercussions of her immoral acts. Her mounting madness and her guilt-racked state show how hollow and ineffective her words and actions have become. Once Lady Macbeth finally starts to feel guilty for her actions, her sensitivity acts against her and becomes a weakness and it is evident that she can no longer cope. Significantly, this shows that whenever you commit a crime, the guilt will always eat away at you. No matter how long it takes.