The relationship and power struggle between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth
The quest for power has been the reason behind man’s selfish and self interested behavior. Power corrupts one’s mind and actions. It denies one the will to uphold moral integrity and rationalism. For the love of power, men are willing to kill, betray and destroy. For power’s sake, men are willing to use anything and everyone. It is one thing to obtain power. It is another to maintain it. Shakespeare portrays man’s struggle for power in the Tragic Story of Macbeth. The quest for power and Lady Macbeth’s influence on her husband are the main factors that contributed to the tragic life that both husband and wife suffered.
At the beginning of the play, Macbeth goes to battle where he meets three witches. The three witches prophesy to him that he will be king. The thought of the power he would hold if he became king excites him. It also creates great internal unrest in him. When he returns home, he shares the news with his wife. He tells her that he confides in her as she is his “partner in greatness”. Lady Macbeth genuinely shares her husband’s excitement. She depicts her genuine love for her husband and the two seem to enjoy a warm affectionate relationship.
Macbeth’s quest for power increases, and so does his wife’s. Lady Macbeth seems more ambitious and she uses the influence she has on him to get him to the throne. She hatches a plan to kill the king to enable Macbeth ascend the throne. Knowing Macbeth too well, she knows exactly where to hit to get Macbeth to carry out her wishes. Act 1 scene 5 shows how she manipulates her husband using the thorough knowledge she has of him. She provokes him by calling him a coward and dares him to prove his manliness. She is more ruthless and cruel than Macbeth. At some point, she wishes that she was a man so she could carry out the plan herself. Macbeth lacks strength of character, which his wife possesses. When Macbeth is hesitant to kill King Duncan, she persistently questions his manhood and makes him eager to prove his bravery.
After killing the king, Lady Macbeth’s strength deteriorates. She is psychologically affected by the inhumane acts she pushed Macbeth into. She becomes insane. Her guilt overpowers her seemingly strong character and she commits suicide. Macbeth remains solitary and full of self doubt. He is left with no one to justify his evil actions.
The death of the King Duncan marks a point of no return. Macbeth realizes that he has to keep killing to retain power. His suspicions and insecurities lead him to kill Banquo. He believes Banquo’s intelligence is a threat to his kingdom. His knowledge of prophesy that Banquo would have a line of kings gives him more reason to kill Banquo.
Macbeths’ continued cruelty leads him to lose popularity among his people. The nobles cease to support him on realizing his association with the king’s death. An army rises against him and a long term fight between him and Macduff ensues. Macduff’s opposition against him intensifies and he kills Macbeth, bringing Macbeth’s head to Malcolm.
In the end, Macbeth loses everything. He lost the wife he loved so much. He lost his partner in greatness, who had manipulated him into doing whatever it took to acquire power. He also lost the power he had done everything to acquire. His quest for power drove him to kill even his best friend. That same quest for power led to his tragic demise.
William Shakespeare. The Tragedy of Macbeth. John Heminges and Henry Condell. 1623.
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