Lady Macbeth is a very controversial figure. She is seen by some as a strong willed women who is ambitious for herself and who is perceptive enough to identify her husband’s strengths and weaknesses, and ruthless enough to exploit them. They see her in her commitment to evil and in her awareness that the attainment of the Crown has not brought her the happiness she had previously expected, and finally, as one who breaks down under the pressure of knowing about the crime committed by herself and Macbeth. Others see her as a woman ambitious for her husband whom she loves. She recognises the necessary ability in him, and feels that, without her, he will never win the Crown. She allies herself with the powers of darkness for his sake, but here natural femininity breaks down under the strain of the twisted murder of Duncan and the alienation of her husband. She is seen as simple and realistic where Macbeth is problematical and imaginative. She can see what must be done; he visualises the consequence.
There is a huge difference between Macduff’s “O gentle Lady ‘Tis not for you to hear what I can speak the repetition in a woman’s ear would murder as it fell.” ACT II, Sc.ii and Malcolm’s assessment of her as a “fiend-like queen” (Act IV, Sc.vii). So we must examine the text. To Macbeth, in his letter to her, she is his “dearest partner of greatness”, an signal of love and trust. We see her as she analyses his qualities and flaws and decides to overcome his principles, “hie thee hither that I may pour my spirits at thine ear” There is evidence that proves she wants him to be king.
When she calls on the powers of evil to unsex her and make her cruel, this implies that she fears her own womanliness and realises the abnormality of the murder of Duncan. She, like Macbeth is just an ordinary human being overcome with ambition. In this sense I do not truly believe she really loses her womanliness. The words (Act I, Sc. ii) “Had he not resembled My father as he slept, I had done’t” implies that she is still a woman with a feminine tenderness. She show herself strong willed and more determined than Macbeth, Act I, Sc.vii, as she argues and demands his agreement to the murder. She is alloy by exploiting his love for her when she convinces him to murder a test of his love. She is being cynical when she inverts logic and reality in asking him if he is afraid to be what he wants to be and in suggesting that to be a true man he must take what he wants. She must she take some of Macbeth’s guilt here. In the murder scene (ActII, Sc.ii) she resorts to wine to give her courage. This also shows that she has not been filled from top to toe with “direst cruelty”. She is aware, too, that dwelling on the ethical aspect of the assassination “will make us mad”.
She seems to be the better criminal; she remembers the details that Macbeth has ignored, “Why did you bring these daggers from the place?” and shows her initiative as she places the daggers on the guards. I do not believe she actually despises Macbeth when she argues him of wearing “a heart so white” I believe instead is she afraid for him that he may betray himself. In Act II, Sc.ii, when she calls for help, she does so because of paranoia makes her afraid that Macduff may question Macbeth further as to his killing of the chamberlains. This again illustrates her quick thinking.
In Act III, Sc.ii, Lady Macbeth is coming to realise that the Crown has not brought contentment, “Nought’s had, all’s spent, Where our desire is got without content.” She is suffering from remorse here, she thinks that the murder of Duncan has distanced Macbeth from her, “How now, my Lord! Why do you keep alone?” She is worried that he is discontented. She tries to comfort him, “what’s done is done.” and to raise his spirits. She again shows her quickness of mind in the Ghost scene when he becomes ‘unmanned’, but then, she does not see the Ghost. She uses the old strategy of appealing to his manliness, but with no success. When the guests have departed she does not upbraid Macbeth, but makes excuses for him that he lacks “the season of all natures, sleep.” This shows her gentleness and compassion towards him. But she could feel that further argument would be useless.
We do not meet her again until this scene. She has now been reduced to a poor, mad creature, broken by events. Our last view of her is her hallucination of nearness to Macbeth. There is a strain on her conscience, her despair and, perhaps still, her determination. Macbeth’s few words about her (Act V, Sc.v) may be uttered in an indifferent tone, or even with a sense of something already lost. In the end, perhaps, we feel guilty for her, but we may still remember what appeared to be hardness and cruelty.
My personal opinion of Lady Macbeth is that Shakespeare had created a character that was five hundred years ahead of her time. Even though she still craved the love of Macbeth she still had her own dreams and ambitions for the future, which was unheard of for a woman around the time of the Tudors and the Stuarts. Even though her drive and determination were admirable from an ethical perspective Lady Macbeth was not portrayed in a very good light. The fact that she was willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent people for her own personal gain made her morally despicable. In the end Lady Macbeth was made out to not to be some evil women with a heart of stone and no conscience, in fact the opposite because it was her conscience that lead to her insanity and eventually her death.