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Flashcards in Lady Macbeth Deck (20)
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“ hath made them drunk, hath made me bold”

• By using antithetical parallelism, Lady Macbeth presents herself as the antithesis of the natural response in men which amplifies her masculinity, as well as contrasts and defies the stereotypical Jacobean woman by being energized by the act of regicide.


“The raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan/ Under my battlements” 1.5

*ill omen
* possessive determiner

• “raven” is an ill-omen for death and represents evil power, as it is dark and ominous therefore signifying the decision that Lady Macbeth has made which is to plan and kill Duncan.

• “hoarse” foreshadows the deaths that will happen later on in the play and also hints that Duncan’s death is coming closer

• “my” is a possessive determiner which showcases the power that Lady Macbeth has decided to control which is unusual in the Jacobean era as women are supposed to be passive. Also reflects how Lady Macbeth has already started to take the situation into her hands before even speaking to Macbeth.


“all that impedes from the golden round” 1.5

• Verb “golden” has connotations of riches and power therefore revealing that Lady Macbeth’s deepest desires and the root of her happiness is to have these in her life which she recognizes can be gained through the crown

• The “round” suggests that ambition is of a the cyclical nature in Lady Macbeth’s personality and the fact that she is already eager for the crown also depicts how her ambition is imbued with hope


“fill me from the crown to the toe top-full /Of direst cruelty!” 1.5

* superlative
* insatiable lusting "toe top", polsive

• Superlative “direst” emphasizes the extent of how far into the darkness she is willing to go and the depth of her evilness

• “crown to the toe” shows that she wants to be filled with evil- shows passion and strong desire

• Her insatiable lusting for power is evident through the use of “toe top” – the use of the plosive “t” conveys an overwhelming sense of ambition and demonstrates how Lady Macbeth can feel the “cruelty” manifesting inside of her which heightens the tension especially when the Messenger comes on stage to tell her that she will be hosting the King. It is at this moment, the audience realizes her intention to commit regicide


“Out damn’d spot” 5.1

* imperative
* damned = connotations of evil and hell

* warning to Jacobean audiencece

• The imperative phrase exemplifies her trauma as well as desperation to clean herself of this blood and also her certainty that there is blood on her hands which accentuates the power of her hallucination. This could also evince her frustration and anger emphasizing the emotional torment she is going through because of her evil action

• The adjective “damn’d” has connotations of hell and evil which could imply that she is trying to exorcise her demons . the fact that she is unable to do this caution the audience not to embrace evil as once you do God will no longer protect you.

• Seeing that Lady Macbeth commanded evil spirits to make her masculine in Act 1 scene 5 and has now become hysterical and maniacal serves as a warning to the Jacobean women in the audience to conform to the social expectations of what women should be (at the time); they should not be the driving force behind anything accept rearing children and should be submissive


“Are you a man?” Act 3 scene 4 (when Macbeth is seeing Banquo’s ghost)

• Questioning a man’s manhood would be seen as an abomination during the Jacobean era, so the fact that Lady Macbeth does this reminds the audience of her evil nature and her crimes against the natural order and also still presents her as quite powerful and dominant despite losing some of her power at this point of the play

• Moreover, during the Jacobean period, women were seen as highly hysterical which is ironic as Macbeth is shown to be the one who is the most emotional out of the two during this scene. Through this, Shakespeare questions and undercuts the gender stereotypes of the time .

• Echoes 1.7 when Lady Macbeth is also questioning his manhood and he responds with “Prithee peace! I dare do all that may become a man”


“You must leave this” 3.2 (before “o full of scorpions is my mind”)

• The use of the imperative “must” demonstrates Lady Macbeth’s assertive nature which is quickly diminished showing how she is losing her power. This could also be seen as a way to regain the power that she has lost which shows how persistent she is.


'Tis safer to be that which we destroy than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy. 3.2

• The use of plosive alliteration creates a sharp and abrupt effect illustrating Lady Macbeth’s bitterness at the situation that has been created and also conveys her sombre reflection as well as her uncertainty about what she has done

• This is in a short soliloquy which mirrors how her power has been diminished

• The oxymoron “doubtful joy” links to how both Macbeth and her do not belong where they are and is also an intertextual link to “fair is foul”. Her connection to the witches is further connected through the use of rhyming couplets reminding the audience of the darkness within her .


“make thick my blood; Stop up the access and passage to remorse,” 1.5

• Lady macbeth in this quote is talking about stopping her period which is one of the significant identificans of being a woman
• Due to the Jacobean society assuming that women are weaker than men, she want to relinquish anything that makes her a woman in order for her to feel that she can gain some respect and power in her patriarchal world
• The excessive use of imperatives emphasises her sheer dislike of womanhood and her strong desire to become revered and feared just like men


“My hands are of your colour; but I shame to wear a heart so white.”

* what does the colour white represent?

Lady Macbeth uses white in reference to a cowards color-like a white feather or a flag of surrender- mocking his lack of bravery and conviction and implying how is trying to give up and run away from his actions.

The way his heart is white demonstrates how she thinks he is weak and cowardly to the core and in a warrior culture like in the Jacobean period when this is set, this would be very insulting to his masculinity.

It may also be that his ‘white heart’ is what prevents him from ever truly committing to his ‘deep and dark desires’. Moreover, this insinuates that Lady Macbeth heart is black which further portrays her as devilish and links her to darkness


“Chastise with the valour of my tongue” 1.5

* Machiavellian villainess - what does this cause the audience to feel

• synecdoche of ‘tongue’ is used to represent her as a whole which suggests that her words are her source of power and ability to manipulate.
• Figuratively, abstract noun, “valour,” has connotations of defiance, bravery and fearlessness, which creates the impression that Lady Macbeth intends on defying societal norms in terms of taking control of her husband.
• This coupled with the verb, “chastise,” symbolises the power imbalance between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, which links to Macbeth being reprimanded and corrected by his wife.
• Symbolically, Lady Macbeth has taken on the role of a Machiavellian villainess; she is excessively ambitious and disrupts the Great Chain of Being, causing the audience to feel disgusted as this highlights that Lady Macbeth’s moral values are questionable and even heinous.


“I would, while it was smiling in my face, have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums, and dash'd the brains out” 1.7

Lady Macbeth attacks the very essence of womanhood, which is that every woman should be a caring and loving mother, through the violent verb “pluck’d” and the onomatopoeic “dash’d”. These are also plosive sounds which enhances her violent intentions . Not only this, “dash’d the brains” is a very vivid and grotesque imagery further challenging the Jaobean perception of womanhood . Male babies were also seen as more valuable than female babies in the Jacobean period , so the fact that Lady Macbeth is willing to kill a male baby accentuates her ambitious persona and depicts how she is determined to be seen equal to men. Her heartless nature is also conveyed through the fact that she would kill her baby whiles “it was smiling in my face” implying how she is willing to give up the most precious relationships for power.


“too full o' the milk of human kindness”

• Uses “milk” as a metaphor for the feminine quality of nurturing kindness–the ironic implication being that she is far less full of that milk than he is. Therefore portraying how dominant Lady Macbeth is in the relationship which was unusual in a patriarchal society.

• Milk also represents purity which therefore implies that Macbeth is too kind and compassionate which contrasts to the descriptions of him in Act 1 scene 2 – a contradiction in Macbeth’s character

• Lady Macbeth challenges conventions and criticises her husband’s masculinity


Lady Macbeth overview

As an example of Macbeth’s gothic elements, Shakespeare utilizes Lady Macbeth’s transgression of traditional gender roles, as a reminder to the Jacobean audience of the necessity of maintaining limits and regulations.


“Help me hence, ho!” 2.3

• Lady Macbeth cleverly uses the stereotype that women are weak to distract everyone from Macbeth which further portrays her as guileful and cunning as well as duplicitous


“take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers” 1.5

• Figuratively, the disturbing imagery “take my milk for gall” has connotations of a refusal of any maternal instinct or any feminine trait that would make her vulnerable
• “milk” has connotations of purity and innocence and has strong ties to mother nurturing baby, therefore, Lady Macbeth is asking to remove feminine qualities
• Shakespeare portrays two contrasting characters between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth through the juxtaposition of Macbeth being “full o’th milk of human kindness” and Lady Macbeth being full of “gall” – which has connotations of bitterness, suggesting her greed for power.
• This symbolizes the shift in power from Macbeth to Lady Macbeth, which further exposes Lady Macbeth’s forceful and power-driven nature, which blurs gender boundaries.
• Commands – shows how she is taking control of the situation


‘t’is the eye of childhood that fears a painted devil’ (2.2)

• Metaphor ‘eye of childhood’ implies he is being childish by not wishing to return to the chamber where the corpse lies
• The patronising and chastising done to Macbeth by Lady Macbeth reinforces the idea of the inversion of gender stereotypical roles in a relationship which echos the chaos of natural order and reminds the audience how evil Lady Macbeth is


“Come, thick night, and pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell”

• Verb “pall” epitomizes Lady Macbeth embracement of evil and showcases the extent how far she is willing to go to get to power which is reinforced through the superlative “dunnest”. This implies that she wants to be among the most evil therefore demonstrating how fearless she is whilst also encapsulating her strong sense of ambition which influences her to transgress against the traditional gender norms – shocking the Jacobean audience .
• Contrasts to Act 5 when she had a “light by her continually”


“Come you spritis that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here” 1.5


• Imperative verb “unsex” “come” expresses her power and strength as she is demanding evil spirits to take her femininity away despite knowing that she will go to hell. The fact that she is inviting evil shows how she is embracing the darkness.
• The use of imperatives establishes her as a powerful, dominant, demanding and commanding character
• For a contemporary audience this would be deeply unsettling since many would be fearful of the supernatural and of being dammed
• Going against the patriarchy
• She doesn’t ask to become masculine – she breaks out of all gender roles further escalating the transgressions against the natural order


Response to Macbeth’s (“I’ll go no more”) “Infirm of purpose! Give me the daggers”

• The use of exclamatory shows the anger that Lady Macbeth has towards Macbeth at this point in time which suggests the power and dominance she has over Macbeth which would shock the Jacobean audience as women were supposed to be submissive towards their husbands let alone raise their voice at them

• Her quick thinking which is displayed through this quotes portrays her as a Machiavellian villain – smart, sly and cunning which would make the audience further see her as evil and wicked.

• The fact that she carriers on the rest of the plan by herself implies how she sees Macbeth as useless and weak which emasculates him and makes herself seem more masculine which is an intertextual link to “unsex me here”

• The declarative and imperative verb in “Give” illustrates Lady Macbeth as emotionless and powerful. Her lack of remorse is striking as it is evident she has placed power over emotion. She arguably manipulated Macbeth into killing Duncan and now she doesn’t even feel empathy for him when he is in such a vulnerable state which was due to her actions. This mockery of Macbeth’s masculinity can be traced back earlier on in the play in Act 1 scene 5 “too full of the milk of human kindness”