Lady Macbeth Essay


Lady Macbeth Essay

Lady Macbeth has not only counselled swift and ruthless action: she has also argued that deceit is necessary for the success of their plans. What she suggests combines ruthlessness with deception, evoking in him not only admiration for her 'undaunted mettle' but delight in the deception itself: Will it not be receiv'd,/ When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two/ Of his own chamber, and us'd their very daggers,/ That they have done 't? (I, vii, 74-77)

The delight here is centred on the thought 'of his own chamber' and of using 'their very daggers'. He is an apt pupil. In their earlier interview, Lady Macbeth urged on him the importance of not letting his thoughts be read on his face, of playing the white devil and showing in his appearance the very opposite of the black and deep desires which he is himself afraid of coming to light. He has learnt to look like the innocent flower and 'be the serpent under it'. Now, utterly resolute, he is ready to make every mental and physical effort to do the deed; and he delights at the same time in the way in which he will 'beguile the time': he is prepared both to be ruthless and to seem innocent and pitifully distressed by what he himself will do: I am settled, and bend up/ Each corporal agent to this terrible feat./ Away, and mock the time with fairest show;/ False face must hide what the false heart doth know. (I, vii, 79-82)

Once more, the intensity of Macbeth's imagining brings on hallucination; thinking of the dagger which he will use against Duncan, he finds himself apparently seeing it, and his desire to use 'such an instrument' is enough to make him imagine the visionary dagger running with blood. The vision is an expression of his preparedness for the deed; it does not frighten him; he reaches for it eagerly because, above all, he intends to use it. Then only is he sure that it is a vision and not a real dagger: yet it may be something which has materialized thanks to supernatural intervention exactly when he needs it; then it would be 'sensible to feeling' as well as to sight. Or, as he recognizes, it may not be something created outside him for his use, but 'a dagger of the mind', an illusion, 'a false creation' of his own fevered mind.

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