Love was very important to the Shakespearean audience. There is not a play written by Shakespeare that does not contain some form of a love relationship. These plays usually end happily, however in the case of “Macbeth”, the relationship that carries this important function, that is love, is conveyed in a way most peculiar. Instead of the average “happily ever after” ending an audience would expect, Shakespeare offers the audience, a villainous duo. One would expect that their relationship is an average husband and wife relationship, but there are many similarities and differences in the relationship which makes it even more enjoyable for the audience to watch the course of it.
The relationship between Macbeth and his Lady comes into significance even before the play starts. One must imagine how close the couple were before we meet Lady Macbeth. The fact that Macbeth sends a letter in anticipation to his wife and does not consult with anyone else is solid proof of how Macbeth trusts his wife and visa-versa: “my dearest partner in greatness”. Lady Macbeth also trusts in her husband, but in a different way; she trusts him as long as he is under her control. This would be quiet unexpected in a relationship during the Middle Ages where men were always the dominant figure in any relationship.
From the first moment we meet Lady Macbeth we immediately notice how shred she is compared to Macbeth: “I fear thy nature is too full o’ the milk of human kindness”. This proves that Lady Macbeth is more brutal than her husband as she fears that “Bellona’s bridegroom” might be too kind; yet Macbeth trusts her whole heartily as he addresses her: “My dearest love”. Even though Macbeth sense that his wife is pushing him towards the murder of Duncan he is faithful to her and allows himself to be controlled by her: “Look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under’t”. This proves how strong Lady Macbeth’s personality is compared to her husband who is always hesitant.
One major difference between the Macbeths is that even Macbeth is said to have a vaulting ambition, Lady Macbeth seems to an ambition more vaulting, more deadly: “Come you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here and fill me from the crown to the toe top full of direst cruelty”. Even Macbeth does not dare to call upon the devil and evil spirits to kill his emotions to, free him of all capacity to feel, to empty him of all remorse. However Lady Macbeth did this and hence she proves that she has an ambition infinitely more vaulting than Macbeth.
Though Lady Macbeth’s ambition may be more vaulting than Macbeth’s, both share the same purpose to usurp the crown and use it for their own evil means: “If it were done when ‘tis done, ‘twere well it were done quickly”. It is here that we see the nature of the vallaint Macbeth start to erode slowly but surely, towards his demise. Macbeth’s conscience is something that was never possessed by Lady Macbeth; one must think that she never had a conscience, that when her vaulting ambition was awakened nothing stood in her way, only emptiness: “You shall put this night’s great business into my dispatch”. Even Macbeth himself who is a renowned warrior is not harsh enough to refer to the heinous act of murder as: “business”.
In contrast with the immorality of Lady Macbeth, is Macbeth’s moral hesitation: “If good, why do i yield to that suggestion…”/ “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent only vaulting ambition” . The very thought of murder causes moral turmoil deep within Macbeth. His good nature, his conscience is in vigorous conflict with his vaulting ambition to sit on the throne at any price, even the forsaking of his own soul. However he is quickly persuaded by Lady Macbeth, who is infinitely more ambitious, determined, even obsessed than her husband: “I am settled and bent upeach corporal agent to this terrible feat”.
Unlike her husband Lady Macbeth is a shrewd character. She is determined to achieve her ambition by any means possible to her. This shrewdness along her extensive manipulation skills create the strongest character in the entire play: “Was the hope drunk wherein you dressed yourself”. The most grievous insult one could render a man during the Middle Ages, were to his manhood; Lady Macbeth makes excellent use of this: “And live like a coward in thine own esteem letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would” like the poor cat i’th adage”. This seems to be in strong contrast with the fact that Macbeth cannot even hide his true feelings; and he proves by failing to attend the welcoming banquet for Duncan due to his unbearable guilt.
Given many differences between Macbeth and his spouse, the main thing they share is the guilt, paranoia, and shear consequences that are brought about by the murder of Duncan: “These deeds must not be thought after these ways; so it will make us mad”/ “Methought I heard a voice cry “sleep no more””. This is the turning point of the Macbeth’s relationship; they are united further by the murder of Duncan, as if they could find a better event to bring them closer other than the murder of a king. The amount of guilt felt by Macbeth after his terrible feat is increased by his previous good nature: “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand”. This contrast with the minimal amount of guilt that Lady Macbeth experiences: “A little water clears us of this deed how easy is it then”. To her great surprise Lady Macbeth will be proven to be gravely mistaken.
The murder of Duncan has changed the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth dramatically. Lady Macbeth has been turned into a frail, weak creature, overcome with paranoia; while Macbeth has become an evil tyrant committing an evil deed after the other. “Out damned spot – out I say”. It seems that washing the guilt off her hands was not so easy as Lady Macbeth has thought: “All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. O, O, O”. This contrasts with the evil tyrant that Macbeth has become killing innocent after the other notably the Thane of Fife’s wife and son.
The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is indeed a turbulent one that carries many similarities and differences. One could compare it to a balance; at first Lady Macbeth is heavy with vaulting ambition and greed, while Macbeth is light with his conscience. However as the play progresses this position changes. Macbeth becomes the one heavy with numerous acts of murder and an ambition more vaulting than ever to preserve the throne for himself, while Lady Macbeth becomes light with her unbearable guilt and paranoia, which in the end lead to her committing suicide. Although there may have been many differences and similarities between the duo in terms of ambition, morality and resolve; but they had but one thing in common, they both knew what they were doing was wrong and chose the path of evil over the path of the righteous.