Theme 2: Characterize the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. If the main theme of Macbeth is ambition, whose ambition is the driving force of the play-Macbeth’s, Lady Macbeth’s, or both?
Every single day we make several choices. Whether it is an irrelevant choice or a choice that will shape your life we have to make them. Your choices are also influenced by others on a regular basis. Everyone wants something for you. Your mother wants you to go out and apply for sterling scholar, your dad wants you to spend your time practicing baseball so that you might get drafted, and all your English teacher wants is for you to at least try to finish the persuasive essay that was due a month ago. Other people’s ambition can shape your life if you are willingly to listen. In the novel Macbeth written by William Shakespeare we discover that ambition is what creates this play. But exactly whose ambition is it that drives the murders, lies, and horror? It is both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth whose ambitions drive each other to a point of committing a deed that will forever shape their lives.
In the beginning it is Lady Macbeth who drives the Macbeth to commit the murder of King Duncan. Although Macbeth has the desires to kill Duncan and be crowned with the power and royalty of being king he is not yet ready to show this. “Stars hide your fires; Let no light see my black and deep desires.” (Macbeth: I.iv. 57-58) Although the desires is their inside him he cannot find a way to act upon it. That is when Lady Macbeth comes in to drive him. King Duncan is going to be a guest in their home. It is there only shot and being able to become Queen and King. Lady Macbeth knows this and she is no just going to let this opportunity go. In this part of the book her ambitions are the strongest. She is not weighed down by guilt and she feels like they can do anything and accomplish and goal that they want. She is unaware of the pain they will go through if they continue forward with the murder. Her mind is free and she is ready to make the risk. She really pushes Macbeth at this time. When he says that they will no longer go on with this deed she challenges his manhood: “What beast was’t then, that made you break this enterprise to me? When you durst do it you were a man; and to be more than what you were, you would be so much more than a man.” (Macbeth: I.vii.53-58) She also challenges his loyalty to her. “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.” (Macbeth I.vii 62-67) Eventually Macbeth caves and the deed is done.
Although Macbeth tries is trying to drive the ambition in the second and third act by sending people to kill Fleance and Banquo visiting the weird sisters and then sending people after Macduffs family. However these things really hurt him. Macbeth says it himself. His mind is full of scorpions and on occasion he almost lets their dark secret go. In the middle of the play I feel that it is a mutual between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. They are both struggling and pushing each other. Lady Macbeth really shines with covering up everything that comes out of Macbeth’s mouth at his dinner, and Macbeth does well with sending murders all around to kill off anyone who might try to take his crown away. At the end of the book is when Macbeths is the ambition pusher and Lady Macbeth is helpless. She is having fits of sleeplessness, and saying things she should not. “Out damned spot, out I say! One. two. Why then ‘tis time to do’t Hell is murky.” (Macbeth V.i. 37-38) Lady Macbeth kills herself and then still Macbeth finds a way to push his ambition within himself. Promising him that he will not be harmed for everyone is born out of women. Even when all hope is gone for him and Macduff reveals his secret he still finds a way to drive the ambition further into his dark and murky soul. “I will not yield to kiss the ground before young Malcolm’s feet and to be baited with the rabble’s curse. Though Birnam wood become to Dunsinane and though opposed, being of no women born, yet I will try the last.” (Macbeth V.vii. 32-37)
The relationship of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth is hard to really make sense of. Their relationship is ever changing and all about respect and power. Although they care about each other you can tell that other things are more important to them then loving their spouse. I think it is shown the best in the way Macbeth mourns at the death of his Lady. “It is a tale told by and idiot. Signifying nothing.” (Macbeth V.v. 30-31) Lady Macbeth and Macbeth marriage is most certainly something else.
In closing who drives your ambitions? Who is it that makes you do the things that you do whether big or small, but most importantly, are your ambitions worth pursuing? The mess that Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s weird relationship and ambitions got themselves into is not one that needs to be retold. Watch your ambitions and watch who is driving them.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. New York: Washington Square Press, 1992. 191.