Lady Macbeth Diction Analysis

1318 Words6 Pages
Shakespeare’s portrayal of Lady Macbeth is distant to the role that a Jacobean audience would be comfortable with women being in. In a time where “the repetition in a woman’s ear/would murder as it fell”; a woman readily savage and merciless caused a disturbance to their ideas of how a woman should behave. This makes Lady Macbeth one of the most striking villains in Shakespeare’s plays.

Lady Macbeth’s entrance is her reaction to the letter sent by Macbeth in which he discloses the Witches’ prophecies. In this scene, Shakespeare’s use of diction presents Lady Macbeth as a calculative woman, who holds no qualms in manipulating her husband and chastising his character.
Macbeth names Lady Macbeth as his “partner of greatness” before she berates
…show more content…
The bird “raven” is a bird of omen and notoriously croaks to warn death. Shakespeare uses the verb “hoarse” to show that the “raven” has been croaking to a great extent and wither that there will be copious amounts of death or the death will be substantial. This metaphor is powerful as it subtly informs the audience that regardless of the scenes to come, there will be a death, likely the death of King Duncan.
Lady Macbeth then goes on to ask the spirits to “unsex” her. The use of this verb alongside a Jacobean audience’s mentality shows Lady Macbeth’s preparedness to remove her female qualities to gain the crown. To the audience, a woman readily stripping herself of her “compunctious visitings of nature” creates questions. Without her nurturing nature, a woman place in society is not certain. Her gender is ambiguous due to the lack of her femininity.
Shakespeare then writes that Lady Macbeth’s “milk” will be “taken for gall”. The noun “milk” not only has feminine and reproductive connotations (which a Jacobean audience would find salient and defining) but is also white, a colour used to represent purity and innocence. The noun “gall” which has a dual meaning. One definition is poison, which shows Lady Macbeth’s willing to sacrifice her reproductive future; however, another definition is impudent behaviour. This definition shows Lady Macbeth’s disrespect of her husband and his trepidations regarding
…show more content…
The audience does not see Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff interact in Macbeth, however, Shakespeare uses Lady Macduff as a foil for Lady Macbeth. In the solitary scene where the audience sees Lady Macduff, she is portrayed as an intelligent, acute woman, akin to Lady Macbeth’s character. However, Lady Macduff is a domestic, nurturing woman who appreciates “honest men” as opposed to Lady Macbeth who promotes her husband to be the “serpent” underneath the “innocent flower”. Shakespeare’s use of a foil is beneficial as it provides a more stark comparison between Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff, making Lady Macbeth’s character seem
Open Document