Lady Macbeth’s Key Themes


Gender

Lady Macbeth challenges gender stereotypes throughout the play by manipulating her husband to her will. Gender is present when Lady Macbeth asks the spirits to unsex her, since she believes that her femininity will hold her back due to the inherent compassion and nurturing nature. Once she has rid herself of this femininity only then does she feel capable of taking violent action. Lady Macbeth also acknowledges the weakness of man, and exploits her husband to use his violent traits to fulfil her ambition through emotional blackmail.

Power and Status

The strong ambition shown by Lady Macbeth to reach power and status is realised when Macbeth gains the throne of Scotland. Initially, lady Macbeth seems content with her new status as she becomes accustomed to the role. However, as the play progresses the status which Lady Macbeth strived to achieve gives her no satisfaction as it dawns on her that power and status alone isn’t enough to cause contentment. This theme is highlighted in Act 3, Scene 2 where Lady Macbeth says “Nought’s had, all’s spent where our desire is got without content.” This quote exemplifies that all the evil deeds has resulted in a lack of contentment. Thus, Shakespeare uses Lady Macbeth to illustrate that no amount of power or status can result in human contentment.

Brutality

Lady Macbeth shows ruthless elements in her character which is most evident in the manipulation of her husband to kill Duncan and claim the throne of Scotland for himself. Once Macbeth has claimed the throne of Scotland he carries out more murders to consolidate his position in power. However, Lady Macbeth can be attributed to unlocking the murderous impulses in her husband by manipulating him to achieve their shared ambition. Thus, Lady Macbeth has the blood of many people on her hands. Brutality is shown to the end with Lady Macbeth, as she continues her ruthless nature upon herself as she can no longer live with her guilt and commits suicide.

Supernatural

When she is sleepwalking, Lady Macbeth’s language is frantic because she is distressed due to her guilt. The visions that she experiences of Duncan’s blood on her hands is her guilty conscience of her and her husband’s murderous actions. The guilty vision Lady Macbeth experiences is because she can no longer contain her own guilt after she recognises the error of her and her husband’s ways. Furthermore, supernatural themes are evident when Lady Macbeth pleads for the help of the spirits as she plots the murder of Duncan. Lady Macbeth recognises that her human capabilities are limited and flawed so she calls upon the help of the spirits to carry out her plan. This indicates that the murder of Duncan was the influence of the supernatural rather than the plan of human ideas.