How does the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth change throughout the play?
In the early stages of the play, the Macbeths seem to be a devoted couple. Their love and concern for each other remains strong and constant throughout the play, but their relationship changes dramatically following the murder of King Duncan in Act 2.
The Macbeths’ relationship is presented in very strong terms in Act 1 by virtue of their sense of togetherness and resolve when separated by war and when placed under enormous pressure and temptation by the Witches’ prophesies. Macbeth’s initial reaction to the prophesy of his future kingship in Act 1, scene 3, is skepticism and disbelief: “Say from whence/You owe this strange intelligence? or why/Upon this blasted heath you stop our way/With such prophetic greeting?”, but this changes to amazement and wonder when he hears from Ross about his promotion to the Thane of Cawdor, in the same scene, and he immediately thinks about using bloody means to become king: “My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,/Shakes so my single state of man”, but as this quotation also shows, he is afraid of its treasonable implications.
His devotion to Lady Macbeth is immediately apparent
She is acutely aware of the public setting of the banquet and is resourceful in making excuses for her husband"tms deranged behaviour: "The fit is momentary", but privately insults his sense of manhood again: "Are you a man" It is very likely that Lady Macbeth privately admits defeat: she dismisses the Lords at the banquet, but without dismissing their suspicions about her husband"tms state of mind and his evil actions ("What sights, my lord"), and her insults to her husband no longer have any effect - he has other plans that do not involve her (i. Their private thoughts also reveal their commitment to each other; they both focus on the need for security and stability: "Nought's had, all's spent,Where our desire is got without content" (Lady Macbeth) and "We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it" (Macbeth). His protectiveness reveals a strong commitment to their relationship. Upon receiving the news of his wife"tms death, Macbeth initially seems unaffected and matter of fact: "She should have died hereafter;There would have been a time for such a word. The dreariness of the alliteration and repetition, the fragility of the candle imagery and the futility of the acting imagery all suggest that Macbeth"tms psyche cannot cope without his wife and his queen. Their relationship is still intact, but their roles have reversed and Shakespeare uses language to illustrate this change; in Act 1 Lady Macbeth used the image of the raven as a portent of Duncan"tms death ("The raven himself is hoarseThat croaks the fatal entrance of DuncanUnder my battlements"), Macbeth in Act 3 echoes his wife"tms imagery in planning Banquo"tms murder: Light thickens; and the crowMakes wing to the rooky wood:Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;While night's black agents to their preys do rouse. " However, his language and tone towards his wife appears affectionate and caring. The next time that Shakespeare presents Lady Macbeth in Act 5, scene 1, she is a pathetic, broken woman, unable to control her actions and words when she sleepwalks. Ironically, it is their shared love that she uses as a weapon to regain dominance: "From this timeSuch I account thy love. " At this point in the play, Lady Macbeth shows her strength of purpose by calling on the spirits of evil to "unsex me here", and to rid her of any womanly compassion in order to carry out the murder of Duncan. However, the murder of Duncan marks the point where their relationship undergoes a shift: she is not as ruthless as she suggests (she could not kill the king) and he is not "full o' the milk of human kindness" as she originally thought. " Their language reveals the intense emotion that lies underneath the surface of their courageous exteriors: she uses the excuse of a resemblance to her father and both use euphemisms such as "business"tm and "deed"tm to evade the brutal reality of murder. Life holds no future or purpose for him, now she is dead. Yet it is a sign of their understanding that they independently come to the same conclusion about killing the king.