Lady Macbeth's influence

When does Lady Macbeth’s influence on Macbeth begin to decline in The Tragedy of Macbeth?

William Shakespeare
Lady Macbeth's influence
Lady Macbeth’s influence

King Duncan’s murder and its impact on Macbeth’s character is the key premise of the Shakespearean drama, The Tragedy of Macbeth. However, the tragic story’s main plot first started surviving with Lady Macbeth’s influence on her husband. Readers of this play can easily estimate how Macbeth’s wife’s brutal intention strongly moves the confused and hesitated Macbeth. But at the same time, readers can witness that her influence on Macbeth gradually declines. Now the million-dollar question is when Lady Macbeth’s influence on her husband starts to decline.

The onset of the said event begins after the murder of King Duncan. As a human and a trusted part of Duncan’s royal administration, Macbeth, for the first time, smells a sense of kingship after hearing three witches’ predictions. His invisible intention gains momentum after his wife Lady Macbeth’s desire to see him as the King comes to light. However, one thing is clear to both of them. They both understand that King Duncan already has his son as heir to the throne. That means Macbeth can become the king only after eliminating King Duncan and his trusted officials. And, accordingly, hesitated Macbeth, at last, kills Duncan after following his wife’s brutal instruction.

But, after the accomplishment of King Duncan’s murder, Macbeth becomes a completely different man with sturdy, cruel nature. In the sense of coveted achievement, he is more confident in his ability and simultaneously losing his confidence in his wife, Lady Macbeth’s wisdom. In a word, the clock of her declining influence starts rotating steadily, and the outcome appears crystal clear when Macbeth plans to murder Fleance and Banquo without consulting his wife. However, with the decline of Lady Macbeth’s influence, another sense also surfaced. That is a gradual appearance of Macbeth a tragedy.

One popular Lady Macbeth soliloquy in Act III, Sc. II of the play reveals this bitter fact when Lady Macbeth utters the words, “Nought’s had, all’s spent.” The said in-depth melancholy clearly means that nothing has been gained even after losing everything. In a word, an innermost feeling surfaced in her mind after achieving her ambition. The whole situation undoubtedly delivers the ultimate dramatic purpose of contributing to the tragedy’s pathos.

As part of contributing to the pathos of tragedy, even Macbeth now prefers to spend more time alone after planning the murder of Banquo and Fleance, even though he has retained his affection for Lady Macbeth. Apart from the said incident, the decline of Lady Macbeth’s influence is more acutely visible in the popular banquet scene in The Tragedy of Macbeth.

The banquet scene shows how Lady Macbeth’s desperate portrayal of wisdom can’t help so much restoring normalcy in Macbeth, who embraces strong distraction after witnessing the appearance of Banquo’s ghost. There is no denying that Lady Macbeth tries hard to apply several methods to help her husband out of the said disillusion, but her efforts produce no result. She may have partially succeeded in recovering the situation with a quick ending of the banquet. Still, the whole circumstances have hinted that Lady Macbeth’s influence is not strong enough now to hide Macbeth’s fast-increasing guilt-conscience. This bitter reality becomes more evident when Macbeth alone decides to kill every one of Macduff’s family and to visit the witches one more time. However, some critics opine that it has nothing to do with his wife’s influence, but in a broader perspective, Macbeth’s decision reveals that he is no more dependent on his wife’s words and opinion. It even portrays the rapidly growing gap between the husband and his wife.

The readers of The Tragedy of Macbeth can estimate the said fast-increasing isolation between the husband and wife in the last part of the play, where Macbeth reacts strangely after hearing Lady Macbeth’s death. His wife’s demise turns him into a man with a strange, tragic personality, and for the reader Macbeth a tragedy with a tragic fate.

There is no denying that Lady Macbeth’s influence on her husband helps make their intention come true in the first part of the play, which is visible in the Lady Macbeth soliloquy in Act I. However, in the final part, she gradually lost her significance to retain as the influencer in her husband’s life.

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