How far do you agree that Lady Macbeth is presented like a Fiend-like Queen Throughout Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ it can be argued that Lady Macbeth, who ruthlessly questions Macbeth’s masculinity catalysing his unnatural acts of violence and brutality, is presented as a fiend like queen. Nonetheless, her calling on spirits in order to remove her gender identity as well as masking her moral consciousness in order for her to transgress against the divine right of kings suggests that she does not entirely embody Malcolm’s biased label ofa fiend-like queen’.
Firstly, the resentation of Lady Macbeth as fiend-like’ explores the concept of being possessed by an evil spirit or demon which is evident as she attempts to challenge all her natural as well as maternal properties. To fit the Jacobean role of a woman she should “love the babe that milks her” but rather she would “while it was smiling in [her] face, pluck [her] nipple from it’s boneless gums”.
Her distortion of the role of her contemporary woman solidifies her presentation as fiend-like, as the contrast between the innocence of a smiling baby and the cruel plucking and dashing of it’s rains creates a horrific image and thus Justifies Malcolm’s view of her. Furthermore, the use of the pure symbol of ‘milk and her distortion of it, makes her appear more demon-like and thus more fiend-like’. Her request for the spirits to ‘come to [her] woman’s breasts’ and take her milk for gall’ is another way in which she distorts the role of woman, as this nurturing substance is replaced with one that is poisonous.
This image of milk reoccurs throughout the play and becomes a symbol of ‘innocence’ and ‘goodness’ and through Lady Macbeth’s rejection of it she ultimately rejects oodness and can be viewed as evil and therefore fiend-like. Furthermore, her constant questioning of Macbeth’s masculinity as well as her accusations of his cowardice does not present her as evil but instead as manipulative and fuelled by murderous desire. Her remarks ‘My hands are the same colour but I shame to wear a heart so white’ present her as morally tainted in contrast to Macbeth.
Her warning that Macbeth is too full of the milk o’ human kindness’ presents her as perhaps morally tainted in comparison to Macbeth as she is quickly and readily able to be involved the act of regicide without any remorse unlike Macbeth who initially roclaims he will ‘no longer proceed in this business’. As a result of the distortion of this milk imagery once again, the image of Lady Macbeth as a fiend-like queen’ prevails.
The powerful imagery created by the rejection of the goodness of milk demonstrates how Lady Macbeth would as a woman lose her maternal property to achieve her ambition similar to the way she views Macbeth as being more the man if ‘durst do it’. Lady Macbeth’s view that her husband would be ‘more the man’ if he durst do [the act of evil]’ further illustrates how evil possesses her mind and thus she an be viewed as a fiend-like queen’. As well as not fitting the maternalistic role of a Jacobean woman, her additional request to remove her gender as she calls on the spirits to ‘unsex’ her would undoubtedly shock her contemporary audience.
On the other hand, a modern audience would not view Lady Macbeth’s actions as fiend-like’ but rather in accordance witn an overtly ambitious woman. It sne were truly mend- like’ she would perhaps be inherently evil and would not need to call upon the “spirits, that tend on mortal thoughts” to fill her with “direst cruelty’. Thus if she is ot inherently evil then she cannot be fiend-like’. Additionally, her request for the witches to obscure her vision through palling her through the dunnest smoke of hell’ so that she can carry out the immoral act of regicide presents her as human-like.
Shakespeare effectively presents Lady Macbeth as a woman who is aware that she is transgressing and hopes to obscure her immoral actions so Heaven will not see her sin nor will her ‘keen knife’ see who it harms. Through her hopes of obscurity it is clear that Lady Macbeth is not entirely a ruthless fiend-like queen’ who has become ntirely lost in her ambition but is a woman who is driven so fiercely by her desire to succeed in stealing the throne for her husband that she would attempt to transgress all limitations.
It is significant that towards the end of the play, her exclusion from the multitude of murders proves that Macbeth had seen a vulnerability in her similar to her inability to commit regicide as Duncan had resembled [her] father as he slept’. Thus it can be argued there is some vulnerability and weakness in the presentation of Lady Macbeth and the view that she is entirely fiend-like’ is not entirely fair.
Madness In conclusion, while Lady Macbeth can be viewed as the “author” of the gothic protagonist’s fall and therefore fiend-like’ it must be considered that the concept of appearance and reality is traditionally explored in gothic writing. While Lady Macbeth appears to be “fiend-like” much like Malcolm’s biased description, through her ruthless ambition of acquiring the throne through regicide and calling on the help of the spirits, her eventual and seemingly inevitable madness is evident that Shakespeare presents Lady Macbeth similar to all aspects of the gothic as undefinable and equivocal.