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TOPIC: marriage of macbeth and lady macbeth

marriage of macbeth and lady macbeth 7 years 5 days ago #5147

  • sarah heywood
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:huh: hi, i have just joined this forum - and wondering if anyone has any tips regarding analyzing the relationship between macbeth and lady macbeth - any pointers would be good. thank you
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Re: marriage of macbeth and lady macbeth 7 years 5 days ago #5148

  • Julian Lopez-Morillas
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Well, let's look at the internal evidence. Lady M. has borne at least one child and nursed it (I, vii, 54). But Macbeth "has no children" (IV, iii, 216). That means either that their child has died. or that she had issue from a previous marriage. This last has the advantage of agreeing with what little we know about the historical Gruoch (see the Wikipedia entry under Gruoch of Scotland) Which way you decide this question will bear on any insights you have into the relationship, whether you feel, for instance, that the loss of a child might have estranged them from each other or brought them closer together; or, if their marriage has been childless, whether their failure to produce an heir has been a problem for one or both of them.

There are not many happily married couples in Shakespeare, but Mac & Lady come reasonably close when we first meet them. Macbeth uses various endearments toward her ("My dearest love," "my dearest partner of greatness," dearest chuck"), and they always seem to regard the plan to achieve the kingship as a joint project (again, the historical Gruoch's blood ties to the royal line were probably stronger than Macbeth's own). But the quickness with which she resorts to belittling, sarcastic language when he gets cold feet (I, vii, 35ff.) may point at some strains in the relationship even before the murder. Such insulting language continues in the scene after the murder ("Infirm of purpose," 'I shame/To wear a heart so white." Afterwards, of course, they appear to drift further and further apart, each into his/her private madness, and by the time of her death they appear totally isolated from one another. His speech coming to terms with her suicide (as it appears to be), "Tomorrow and tomorrow," seems nearly devoid of any personal feeling. It occurred to me while playing Macbeth some years ago that perhaps the reason neither can apparently get a good night's sleep following the murder-- surely a factor in their unraveling-- is that the marriage bed has itself been polluted. If the King comes to visit, you will of course give him the best room in the house-- the master bedroom. So they have murdered Duncan in their own bed.

Dramatically, of course, it seems to me that focusing on whatever positives exist in their earlier relationship (affection, respect, sexual attraction, common goals) make the slow death of their marriage a more pathetic part of the tragedy. So I think productions that create a real sense of love and caring between them give us a sharper sense of the terrible price both have to pay for their ambition and their crimes.
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Re: marriage of macbeth and lady macbeth 7 years 4 days ago #5149

  • rusty
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I think Julian has covered things really well and I cannot agree more that showing the close relationship at the start of the play creates a great starting-point to add their deteriating relationship to the several dramas of the play. I've always been mostly attracted to the personal journey taken by both characters rather than the external events and find this the tantalising component of this drama. One point a very talented young actress I directed in the role of Lady Macbeth focused on was that Lady Macbeth loves and admires her husband but clearly understands his weaknesses - I:v 'Yet do I fear thy nature:...wishest should be undone.' Recognising her husband would make a great King (and wants to be King) but left to his own devices he won't undertake any immoral actions to become King she decides to take up this role herself and summons courage from the darker spirits to surpress her female aspects and take a manly strength - In this respect, Julian we took her insults to Macbeth as representing this lack of strength (read manhood) when he considers backing-out. This gave us a framework to place love for her husband as the core motivator behind Lady Macbeth's actions (I've always struggled with the blood-thirsty presentation of her). Her initial observations of her husband prove to be correct as by forcing him to take actions he wouldn't normally undertake (with some help by witches messing with his head) he starts a dramatic fall into madness and my own thoughts are that Lady Macbeth blames herself and is consumed with her guilts.

It is a complex and beautiful relationship. Thank-you for opening this topic.

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