Below are some examples of the sort of detailed revision plans that you need to cover the main characters, relationships, themes and imagery.
Revision plan: Character (Macbeth)
Macbeth/ Lady Macbeth
You can see the opening section of the writtten answer based on this plan below.
2003 E MACBETH – William Shakespeare
(i) “We feel very little pity for the central characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play.”
To what extent would you agree with the above view? Support your answer by reference to the play.
Macbeth may be the shortest of Shakespeare’s great tragedies but ultimately within those four memorable acts, there is everything that a great play should contain. Universal themes of life, love and loss are compellingly dealt with over the course of this extraordinary drama. However, for me it is the complexity of the characters that the great bard has created in the play that raise it above the standard of other narratives. Central to these is of course the title character of the fatally flawed Macbeth. His journey from Scotland’s saviour to ‘abhorred tyrant’ is a compelling one. However, I can understand why for many, the character in the play who will remain with them as the years pass is lady Macbeth – the ‘dearest partner of greatness’ behind ‘black Macbeth’. It is also a matter of great debate as to how much pity – if any – this intriguing pair deserve as they drift apart, and eventually meet their terrible fates.
The question of whether Lady Macbeth is worthy of our pity is an interesting one. It seems clear to me that she is fiercely loyal to her husband and seems prepared to do whatever it takes to help him ‘to catch the nearest way.’ While Macbeth desperately wants to become king, he is clinging to the unrealistic idea that ‘chance may crown me’. The idea that the ‘golden round’ is somehow going to land on his lap appears completely delusional to me. I have no doubt whatsoever that without Lady Macbeth to push him on, there is no chance that her husband would ever have the guts to take the kind of actions necessary to become king. He says himself that he has ‘no spur to prick the sides of my content’ and so she feels she has to go against her nature to get the strength to push him into taking action. The fact that she is prepared to go as far as asking evil spirits to ‘fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty’ shows the sacrifices that she is prepared to make to support her husband; and for that reason I believe it could be argued that she is deserving of our sympathy.
By engaging with these dark forces to give her the resolve she needs to help her husband, Lady Macbeth ultimately pays a terrible price for her actions. By the end of the play I was amazed by the decline of this woman who had appeared initially to be so tough. By the end, she is a recluse. Sleep- walking and barely coherent, she has become a shadow of the woman with the ‘undaunted mettle’ that we met earlier in the play. She realises too late that a ‘little water’ cannot clear them ‘of this deed’. I initially felt little sympathy for her fate – feeling that she deserved everything that she got for her role in her husband’s reign of terror. However it was only when we went to see the Second Age production of the play in Dublin that I started to feel quite sorry for her. The sight of her meandering across the stage, gibbering away to herself was a genuinely pathetic one. I realised the huge price she had paid for her actions and I couldn’t help but feel some pity for her as she realised ‘what’s done cannot be undone’.
Despite the miserable end that she faced for her sins, I still find it hard to be overly-sympathetic to Lady Macbeth given that she played such an important role in putting her husband on the brutal and bloody path that almost destroyed a whole country…………