HWA – 10xEN2 – Character of Lady Macbeth

Hi everyone,

Please write a response to this GCSE exam question.

Explain how Shakespeare presents the character of Lady Macbeth through her first soliloquy in Act 1, Scene 5.

(7 marks) You should spend 20 minutes on this question.

Here is the link to the extract, with a modern version to help you. http://nfs.sparknotes.com/macbeth/page_30.html

I’m giving you until Monday so you have lots of time to get this done. If you don’t understand what Lady Macbeth is saying, I will be in the Pathways area tomorrow lunchtime.

Miss Walsh


7 thoughts on “HWA – 10xEN2 – Character of Lady Macbeth

  1. max

    Lady macbeth in get first soliloquey is put across as a strange secrative pearson who dosent think macbeth can murder the king and plans to kill king duncan her self

  2. Sarah M.P.

    We see Lady Macbeth as a mysterious and suspicious person. It sounds as if she refuses to show her true self towards other people. Also, we begin to notice that she is losing her feminine side. I believe, Lady Macbeth has thoughts upon the situation that Macbeth has not got what it takes to kill King Duncan Because, he is full generosity not to kill him at first, for example ‘ Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way.’

    1. hwalshdartmouth Post author

      Thanks Sarah – I agree that Lady Macbeth seems quite mysterious at this point in the play. Could you quote more from the play to support your points; how do we know she is losing her feminine side?

  3. connagh

    Shakespeare has used a soliloquy so that we can gain access to lady Macbeth’s thoughts and feelings. Indeed she refuses at this point to show her true self towards other people. Therefore, the soliloquy allows the audience a real insight into her character. She seems to be a mysterious and suspicious character which resinates with the portrayal of the three witches. She is shown to have evil thoughts; ‘Hie thee hither,That I may pour my spirits in thine ear’ this suggests that she is the instigator of Macbeth’s deadly deed and that she has put a spell on him. In those days women were seen as the ‘root of all evil’ and that behind macbeth’s actions was an evil calculating women. However, in this soliloquy it could also be said that she has male characteristics; ‘Yet do I fear thy nature;It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness’ she subverts the normal female expectations of the time and suggests that macbeth is weak. She manipulates him by suggesting; ‘ thou wouldst be great, Art not without ambition’ it seems like she is questioning his manhood. This suggests that she is more powerful than him and that she is the one who is in control. Finally Shakespeare presents her as ambitious and knows that in order for a woman to gain power at this time she would have to gain it explicitly through a man i.e. Macbeth. Shakespeare therefore clearly starts to present lady Macbeth as upsetting the change of being and that lady Macbeth is the catalyst that creates chaos after the death of king Duncan.

    1. hwalshdartmouth Post author

      Thanks Connagh – this is a really good answer. I particularly like the way you have talked about women’s position within society, and linked this to the idea that Lady Macbeth subverts the normal expectations of women.

  4. Elliot

    I think that in the speech that lady Macbeth makes in scene 1 act 5 makes Cher seem as if she is a crafty person who has a dark side to he as during the speech she says phrases such as “fill me from the crown to the toe top-full Of direst cruelty.”or ” make thick my blood” aswell as these quotes there are many others that I could of chosen to represent lady Macbeth as a sly person.

  5. alex cope

    In Inverness, Macbeth’s castle, Lady Macbeth reads to herself a letter she has received from Macbeth. The letter announces Macbeth’s promotion to the thaneship of Cawdor and details his meeting with the witches. Lady Macbeth murmurs that she knows Macbeth is ambitious, but fears he is too full of “th’ milk of human kindness” to take the steps necessary to make himself king (1.5.15). She resolves to convince her husband to do whatever is required to seize the crown. A messenger enters and informs Lady Macbeth that the king rides toward the castle, and that Macbeth is on his way as well


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