Historical figure and character in , the wife of Macbeth.

Lady Macbeth shares her husband's lust for power, and it is her fierce goading that fills Macbeth with the necessary intensity to overcome his scruples and commit this assassination.

Her principle importance lies in her ability to influence her husband early in the play, and greeting Duncan with hypocritical charm when he arrives at the castle.

Lady Macbeth's viciousness has horrified generations of readers and audiences. However, her grim fervor not only makes her fascinating--the role has consistently attracted major actresses of all periods--but it also illuminates the most important element of the play: Macbeth's relationship to evil. He clearly would not have carried out the regicide, although he had already considered it, without the impetus from her. She, on the other hand, willingly commits herself to evil. The contrast makes clear the potential goodness in Macbeth that he abandons when the murder happens. Lady Macbeth thus functions as a symbol of evil until she falls victim to it herself.

The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth withers in the atmosphere of mistrust and emotional disturbance that is unleashed with Duncan's murder. Though she seemed much stronger than her husband, in the end she lacks the animal strength he uses to bear the aftermath of their deed to its fatal conclusion.


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