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Benjamin Mao

The Macbeths relationship
Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him. Indeed, for the
first two acts of William Shakespeares tragic Macbeth, Lady Macbeth essentially controls every
aspect of the murder of Duncan from the planning to the execution. However, as the play
progresses, Lady Macbeth relinquishes control over her husband and Macbeth inherits the role of
decision-maker in their marriage.
In acts one and two, Lady Macbeth pushes her husband to kill Duncan, proving her
dominance over Macbeth. In her famous soliloquy in Act 1, Lady Macbeth calls upon evil spirits
to, come, unsex me here and fill me from the toe top-full of direst cruelty (1.5.30-33). Lady
Macbeth fears that Macbeth will hesitate when it comes to actually killing Duncan and so, she
finds it prudent to do everything in her power to persuade Macbeth to kill Duncan, which
includes shedding her innocence and gentleness. Later, when Macbeth questions whether
anybody will suspect them if they commit the murder of Duncan, Lady Macbeth scoffs at the
thought, saying that, Who dares receive it other, as we shall make our griefs and clamor roar
upon his death?(1.7.76-78). Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth to pretend to grieve for Duncan to
deflect any suspicion of his involvement in the murder and seeing that it seems like a wonderful
idea, Macbeth enthusiastically agrees. Later in Act Two, when Macbeth returns from murdering
Duncan with the bloody daggers still in his hands, Lady Macbeth asks, Why did you bring these
daggers from the place? and orders him to, Go carry them and smear the sleepy grooms with
blood(2.2.48-50). Macbeth almost ruined the perfect murder by leaving with the evidence, but
Lady Macbeth berates him for it and she eventually returns the daggers to cover up for
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Macbeths mistake. By the Third Act, Macbeth asserts his role as the decision-maker and Lady
Macbeth becomes a follower of her husband, no longer influencing him with her words.
In acts three, four and five, Macbeth displays his authority in making decisions and Lady
Macbeth becomes increasingly insignificant with regards to decision-making. In Act Three,
Macbeth notes that, That every minute of his being thrust against my nearst of life. And though
I could with barefaced power sweep him from my sight and bid my will avouch it (3.2.120-123).
Macbeth commands to three murderers to kill Banquo and his son for he fears that Banquo will
usurp him from the throne by telling the truth about what happened to Duncan. Macbeth is, for
the first time, thinking strategically without the guidance of Lady Macbeth, who is beginning to
become disillusioned by nightmares, and it helps him to hold onto power for quite some time.
Later in Act Four when Macbeth confronts the witches, he commands them to, Answer me to
what I ask you (4.1.62-63). At this point in the relationship, Macbeth thinks that his wife is a
joke and decides to appeal to higher powers to determine his next course of action to take in
ensuring his rule lasts for as long as possible. By the final act of the play, Macbeth doesnt even
feel any emotion when told of his wifes apparent suicide, dismissing it something that was
bound to happen. He then launches into the famous Tomorrow and Tomorrow soliloquy in
which, he compares everyones lives (including that of his wife) to a, Poor player that struts and
frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more (5.5.24-26). According to him, people
get an instant of glory sometime in their life and then are forgotten for the rest of their lives.
Lady Macbeths moment in ordering Macbeth around have long since passed. Macbeths
moment rapidly approaches the end as well, although he still has some control over his final
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actions. The complex relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth plays a pivotal role in
the events of the play.
Macbeth offers a unique view into role reversal, a rarity in the England of Shakespeares
time. He was trying to prove that decision-making must come from both the husband and the
wife, although he implies that men get the final say in the end. Lady Macbeths golden moment
come early on in the play and she takes full advantages of it to convince Macbeth to kill Duncan.
Later, Macbeth refuses to listen to his wife and eventually decides that she is expendable, just
like everyone else in this world.