Lady macbeth quotes

  • Created by: dbearne
  • Created on: 03-04-18 19:47

Lady Macbeth - 'Look like the innocent flower'

After Macbeth's arrival, Lady Macbeth instructs her husband to "look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under't". She urges him to put on a show of friendship and convivality.

The serpent’s ability to shed its skin could be symbolic of the potential for rebirth and new beginnings Lady Macbeth wishes for a new life, free of a chain of command to which they are bound with Macbeth as Thane, wherein they are in control of their own fates. However, the term ‘serpent’ is often used in mythological allusion, perhaps suggesting that Lady Macbeth’s desire for a new beginning is idealised, mythological, doomed never to become a reality.

Lady Macbeth is essentilaly telling her husband that he should appear harmless and innocent but be prepared to strike like a deadly snake hiding behind in a flower. She means that Macbeth must appear bengin, kind and friendly, but that this must only be an act, for he must decieve the others so that they do not suspect him of any malice. This innocent and harmless appearance must disguise his true nature and their purpose, which is to assissinate the king. In order for them to execute their plan flawlessly, both characters must appear to be benevolent servants of King Duncan. Macbeth must cast aside his anxious disposition and act casually around the King and his guests. Gradually, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth struggle to hide behind their innocent appearances and ultimately suffer the consequences of their actions.

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Lady Macbeth - 'Look like the innocent flower'

This is significant in the course of the action of the play, because once Macbeth turns to a villainous course of action and begins to hide his 'serpent' behaviour behind a veil of niceness and fasle innocence, he gets deeper and deeper into the crimes he must commit. It is also significant in the fact that Lady Macbeth is the real brains behind the murder, but Macbeth is the one that actually carries all the crimes out.

There is a parallel between Macbeth being swayed by Lady Macbeth and Adam being swayed by Eve in the Garden of Eden. The mentioning of the 'serpent' is a reminder of who the real villain was in Eden. If Macbeth had stopped to consider this parable, he might have realised that he was heading to his own demise. Serpents are traditionally cunning and sneaky creatures as shown in the Garden of Eden, which are characteristics embodied by Lady Macbeth right from her introduction.  

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Lady Macbeth - 'Out damned spot! Out I say!'

The 'Out, damned spot' speech occurs in Act 5, Scene 1 and reveals Lady Macbeth's subconscious feelings. 

Repetition of ‘out’ conveys lack of control and creates stammering effect; ‘damned’ verb means to be condemned to hell; ‘spot’ metaphor for Lady Macbeth’s earlier attempts to trivialise the significance of regicide. Iambic pentameter is disrupted in this scene.

In this scene, we find Lady Macbeth sleepwalking through the castle, hallucinating and rubbing her hands together as if she is washing them. Like her husband, she cannot find any rest, but she is suffering more clearly from a psychological disorder that causes her, as she sleepwalks, to recall fragments of the events of the murders of Duncan, Banquo, and Lady Macduff. These incriminating words are overheard by the Doctor and a lady-in-waiting.

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Lady Macbeth - 'Out damned spot! Out I say!'

It shows Lady Macbeth's psychological destruction. Furthermore, it proves that guilt has alwyas been present in her mind but she just didn't want to show it for fear of appearing like a weak female. Now this fake barrier has been broken down by her mental condition, her true feelings can be seen. 

The transition of power in the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth can be further seen here. Wanting to remove blood, both literally and metaphorically was something that Lady Macbeth had scorned her husband for earlier in the play. However she has now sunk to this level while Macbeth has become the powerful ruler who shows no guilt or remorse.

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Lady Macbeth - 'All the perfumes of Arabia...'

"All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." (Act V, Scene I) - The verb 'sweeten' reminds the audience of the traitional expectations of women to be pleasing, compassionate and morally pure. This is a great contrast to Lady Macbeth's previous explicitly violent semantics of Act 1. She has regressed into a archetypal subservient and gentle female that she so desperately wanted to avoid. This is backed up by diminutive semantics such as 'litle'.

This quotation can be linked to Macbth's: 'Will all great Neptune's ocean wash clean this blood from my hands'. They both show a desire to get rid of what they have done. However, Macbeth says it instantly after the murder whereas Lady Macbeth doesn't wish to get rid of it till Act 5, showing that her evil desires were indeed stronger than her husband. Furthermore, Macbeth wishes to 'clean' the blood and completely remove what he's done. Lady Macbeth just wants to 'sweeten' her hands, implying that she just wants to get rid of the negative impacts the murder has had on her and not actually the sin itself. Her remorse is purely for self gain and nowhere near as deep and geniune as Macbeth's.

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Lady Macbeth - 'The Thane of Fife had a wife...'

Internal rhyme evokes a sad, nursery-rhyme like effect, Lady Macbeth's mental condition has caused her to regress into the mind of a child. The lack of sleep has stopped her rational thinking and emotion and she is just a shell, like a confused young child.

The question could be mimicing what she is asking herself, whether she has an identity anymore. The divide between husband and wife continually grows throughout the play all the way to the point where they rarely talk. She could be inside contemplating her identity as a wife, and therefore her subconcious damaged mind is trying to reassure itself by moving the question on to somebody else.

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